Delegates from around the world are descending on Dakar, Senegal, this week for the 23rd Africa Paris Conference, bringing with them a torrent of aid and investment proposals. But many of the guests may not have spent much time in Africa; they merely know the countries they’ll be meeting from watching the news. This year, a key issue will be the issue of “brain drain,” so named because many skilled African professionals decide to take up jobs elsewhere.
Research conducted last year by Pew Research Center showed that 50 percent of the more than 130,000 people polled across 15 countries saw “brain drain” as a source of trouble for their countries. But think of the situation this way: If every well-paid job opened up in Africa (a scary thought), then about 90 percent of the 20 percent who would be left would move to other countries. Even a 10 percent job market deficit would result in about two of the people uprooted already starting their lives overseas — people who could make a significant impact. And it would be a win-win: more successful workers who would be competing for future jobs, and a growing economy that would benefit from their skills.