How Technology Can Help Combat Africa’s Brain-Drain

Written by Staff
brain-drain
Thinkstock

For the first time, Africa-focused startup funding has crossed the $1 billion mark. Last year, African startups received a total of $1.3 billion, with over half of the total funneled into fintech businesses. From banking to health care provision, startups are proving that technology can provide solutions to the most challenging of problems.

Brain drain has long been identified as one such issue.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has labeled it a “bane to Africa’s potential”, and during a visit to South Africa in 2018, former US President Barack Obama chose to tackle the subject. Obama advised young Africans to drive change at home and encouraged governments to create platforms for success.

It should be no surprise that Obama used the weight of his words to address brain drain, and since 2018 the situation has not improved. The African Union estimates that about 70,000 skilled professionals leave each year, dramatically impacting public service delivery, especially in the health sector.

From The Africa Report.

For many African countries, there are more doctors and health practitioners in the diaspora than at home. Yet in the age of mobile proliferation, technology is providing the capability to reverse engineer the impact of brain drain.

It is clear that countries around the world have benefited greatly from the knowledge and expertise of many Africans who have migrated for economic opportunities. Nigeria is the primary case study, with the United Kingdom benefitting to the tune of 6,770 Nigerian nationals working in the National Health Service (NHS).

The number of health professionals that are second or third generation migrants from Nigeria working in the NHS is higher still.

And it is not just the UK that recruits Nigeria’s medics. Daily newsletter: join our 100 000 subscribers! Each day, get the essential: 5 things you need to know Also receive offers from The Africa Report Also receive offers from The Africa Report’s partners

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US, and many other countries also scout for doctors willing to make the move. According to the health minister, there is one doctor per 5,000 people in Nigeria, compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of one per 600 people. The issue is of course not confined to Nigeria, with the WHO suggesting that 57 % of Africans have poor or no access to quality care.

Brain drain undoubtedly has a negative impact on the countries that individuals leave behind, however those that choose to make the move should not be criticized for their decision. Instead, the focus should be on how to address the impact of brain drain and improve the delivery of vital services such as healthcare.

Read more at The Africa Report.