"The Uprooted Emigrant": The Impact of Brain Drain, Brain Gain, and Brain Circulation on Africa's Development
TRANS-ATLANTIC MIGRATION: THE PARADOXES OF EXILE
Worsening economic conditions in many African countries have uprooted many of its people from their home countries, voluntarily and involuntarily, in search of the "golden fleece" abroad. This has led to brain drain, brain gain and brain circulation. Brain drain is synonymous with knowledge loss or drain. Brain gain is the reverse side of brain drain, in which Africans in the diaspora return to their various countries with high skills to contribute to their countries' development. Brain circulation entails a continuous and counter-balancing in-flow of highly skilled personnel. The nature of most economies in Africa today has warranted this jigsaw puzzle. The outcome of bad management of the economy and the generalized violent conflict on the continent has not helped matters. Some survivors in war-torn countries, both skilled and unskilled, look outside of their countries for a better life. In some African countries people run away from economic hardship to improve their lives abroad where things are expectedly better. This phenomenon cuts across all manners of people, including professionals and other skilled labor.
This situation is true of many countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to mention just a few. Some of those who are not well educated travel and get educated and develop and acquire better skills and make positive contributions to those societies. These movements do not take place only outside Africa, but also within Africa.
The consequences of these developments are many and varied. Aside from the image problem it creates for Africa, it portrays Africans as people who are not serious and their governments as irresponsible and corrupt, especially Africa south of the Sahara. There are also those who have made Africa proud in various fields of human endeavor. But the problem remains that the recipe which made them succeed abroad never works at home. Against this background, this chapter investigates the impact of this type of crisscrossing migration on Africa's development, and how far the benefits or otherwise can go to assist in the sustainable development of Africa.