By Sampson Boamah
For some time now, I have thought about this critical issue while trying to digest what probably has necessitated the gradual migration of the potential human resource of a continent blessed with many natural resources. The question begging for answers is why are many African talents running away from the continent? Which factors account for the sudden migration of potential continental builders to Europe and America? What are some of the remedies to this trend if any. This article aims at tackling the issue while humbly suggesting solutions to curb the situation
I have decided to talk about the desertion of the African continent by the growing youth who seek to find greener pastures in other parts of the world. Though this is a very difficult issue, I will try my best to be reasonable and logical. If You had the opportunity to interview 10 African youth whether given the chance to choose between living in Africa to contribute to its development or travelling to Europe or America, which of these options would they choose, I can tell you that 9 out of the 10 would choose to settle in other parts of the world far from Africa. The remaining one will just be indecisive.
It is not the intent of this article to criticize anybody who chooses where to live in any part of the world if the person finds peace and tranquillity of mind. Travelling to other parts of the world is not a taboo, especially for education, training, and trading purposes in this modern era. It allows one to see, learn and acquire the skills and knowledge that foster innovation. After all, we are in a global village!
However, what seems of concern is when you have most of the productive part of the population deserting Africa to find their livelihood in other parts of the world and contribute to their progress and development. This should be of great concern to African leaders.
Perhaps there are a plethora of reasons that can be attributed to this canker which has become the latest trend on the continent. Many years ago, it used to be political instability in most parts of the continent accounted for the migration of many Africans to other parts of the world especially among the youth. Many people tried to escape the political cruelty of the day. You expect that since this occurrence is on the low in most parts of the continent these days that should give room for many to stay and build the continent contrary to recent happenings.
Moreover, bad governance in most parts of the continent cannot be taken out of this important conversation. In most instances, corrupt and greedy individuals are elected to the helm of affairs. These selfish and greedy leaders think less about their citizens and focus on the enrichment of their family members and friends. It is a known fact that bad governance has led to the underdevelopment of the continent. These visionless leaders have demonstrated that they lack the will and zeal coupled with the lack of policies and plans that aim at curtailing the problem.
The lack of employment for young African graduates after school forces these energetic graduates to travel to Europe and America to further their education and settle after their studies. After spending so much in school, people must pay bribes before they can be placed in government institutions. This phenomenon is deeply taking place in Ghana and most parts of the continent. This has led to the frustration of many graduates. In some cases, some graduates stay home for more than 5 years without any proper decent paying job. All these frustrations make them want to go and never return.
Furthermore, a major factor that cannot be hidden under the carpet in this conversation is the poor condition of workers. The amount paid to employees at the end of the month is nothing to write home about. It is therefore not surprising that when an individual sees what he or she earns in a year in Africa in juxtaposition to what a colleague in America or Europe earns within the same time frame, it gingers such individuals to leave the continent. People are under paid. The only people who receive the best salaries are the politicians and those who are friends with them.
What adds insult to injury is that some persons or employees work in government institutions yet they do not have healthcare benefits, transport allowance and other benefits that help the individual to save and so employees are to fall on their meagre salaries for these expenses. The earlier the leaders pay attention to this the better!
Nurses are leaving, teachers are leaving, doctors are leaving and almost all the skilled workers are migrating. A few weeks ago, the United Kingdom barred recruitment agencies from recruiting health workers from 54 countries Ghana inclusive. This has become a national issue in Ghana. Why are people moaning about this ban? Because they believe that when they get the opportunity to go, they will make it better than their colleagues in Ghana and other parts of the continent. After retirement, they will enjoy a lot of benefits and respect from the country than they will get in Africa.
Brain drain has become the new tool of destruction for the African continent after the barbaric slave trade and colonisation. In some parts of the world, when young citizens travel to America and Europe to learn, they quickly go back to their home countries to contribute to the growth and development of their countries. This is not the case for African students in the diaspora.
The article How Extensive is the Brain Drain written by William J. Carrington and Enrica Detragiache and published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), tried to establish the basis for which many people are leaving their continent and travelling to the Western world.
The biggest migratory flows from Africa to the United States are from Egypt, Ghana and South Africa, with more than 60 per cent of immigrants from those three countries having a tertiary education. The migration of Africans with only a primary education is almost nil according to the article.
Reading this was a shock but it was not a surprise as well. This should be a worry for African leaders and decision-makers to rethink how things operate on the continent. How can 60 per cent of persons leave the continent to go build other countries and continent be graduates? In most instances, these people do not have the desire to return and even give their expertise.
As a continent, we are digging our graves if we do not find a solution to this never-ending trend that has become a recipe for the failure of the continent. Leaders must be responsible in their leadership by first thinking about their citizens rather than themselves.
There should be proper design and policy in place to make sure that when young graduates are done with their first degree, they are not entrapped into moving to Europe and America for better working and living conditions.
It is always good to receive higher education from some of these developed countries to build oneself, but it is not enough when after acquiring this knowledge and skills we refuse to come back and build our home. And yet we still profess that we love Africa just by mouth and not by intent and deeds. These people who are privileged to travel should remember that there is no place like home.
Africa is what we have all got and if we turn our back on it, posterity will judge us badly. Irrespective of the number of years we live and spend in Europe or America, we cannot be Europeans or Americans not even by naturalisation or gaining citizenship.
Most citizens from the Asian continent when they are done with their studies go back home to give their skills and expertise to help build their country. And that is why most of them are developed.
Even in Africa, those who gain government scholarships and grants to study abroad do not want to come and give back to society. We need to change this narrative. No one from America or Europe will come here to build our continent. Let us have a paradigm shift!
We should make the African continent an enviable place to live and stay. No one will if we do not do it ourselves. Africa must work again. Young Positivist, a concerned citizen of the continent.