Mar 30th, 2018, 02:30 PM

Inspire Africa's Brain Drain: "Why Africa Needs its Youth"

By Marissa Stanley
H.E Anna Bossman
Image Credit: Seun Ozolua
"I'm going to talk to you about realities. The real stories will tell you what people went through and what it cost us."

Wearing a traditional brown jacket and a yellow krobo necklace, AUP'S Inspire Africa Club welcomed Ghana Ambassador Her Excellency Anna Bossman Friday night. The event was held to shed light on to a topic not typically discussed in the western world— the "Brain Drain" or the emigration of highly trained or qualified people from a particular country. 

Due to it's political and relative economic stability, Ghana is an attractive migration site for those escaping harsher realities. On the other hand, though, many educated Ghanaians are leaving to western countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada. This is due to the lack of employment opportunities and upward mobility that is available in their home country. For example, a report by the International Organization for Migration showed that "56 percent of the doctors who are in Ghana and 24 percent of the nurses trained in Ghana are now working aboard."

"In 1982, I decided to leave Ghana." H.E. Anna Bossman spoke Friday night, " It was a particularly difficult period. We had the structural adjustment program. This resulted in a severe brain drains. Academia, scientists, teachers, a lot of medical professionals. Most people left because of economic reasons, they felt there was nothing in our country that was worth staying for, in fact, there was no hope. There was nothing in the supermarkets, I do not even know why they would call them supermarkets."

"The narrative of Africa was always negative: bad governments, corruption, unemployment, bad politics, so why should you want to go back? But in that tightly packed hole, you can tell there is a sense of skepticism. But there was also a real sense of hope, optimism. The feeling today, there is a different narrative about Africa. Africa is rising, there is a lot of emerging economies. Africa is the future of the world."

Image Credit: Seun Ozolua

The departure of these qualified persons is also leaving jobs with certain qualifications empty. Ghana is suffering from a lack of qualified teachers to train new generations of nurses and doctors. Poor working conditions and lack of promotions in jobs have only further motivated Ghanaians to seek other opportunities. The large gap in salaries inside the country compared to those outside, also make for another attractive reason to move away. 

H.E. Anna Bossman said, "People were also being enticed to come by these governments. This had an enormous effect on our country. Especially at this time, when our country was very fragile. Economic, financial, social and structural, but mainly it was psychological. Many people who left at that time have still not have come back, they were traumatized by their experiences." 

 "There is nothing wrong with you wanting to stay (in France). I'm trying to say, we also need you."

There are many solutions that are offered when it comes to what to do about the Brain Drain. For example, to stop recruitment for professionals from developing countries, or being more encouraging about returning back. However, Bossman pushed for those who want to come back, but she also understood those who would want to stay in France.

Overall, there was a sense of longing for the African students to return to their home countries but just did not know where to begin. Heriot-Watt University postgraduate student, Iman Madugu, told Peacock Plume, "It is inspiring to see a woman take action in Africa. We have different standards, it is nice to see a woman in power."