Oct 01 2009

Working in Africa

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 9:04 AM

The Financial Times published today a fascinating, if brief survey on high-end professional work in Africa. One bright story profiles an investment who has returned to his native Kenya after years abroad. Another looks at the ominous possibility of being kidnapped in Nigeria. For people born and raised in Africa, the number of high-end jobs, especially if South Africa is exclused, remains very small. But the demand for high skill is growing and wages too. Looming in the background of course is the subject of brain drain, which the FT’s superb Africa editor, William Wallis, handles with his usual skill. While talented Africans are returning to their lands in numbers much much higher than 20 years ago, the flow is a mere trickle when contrasted with the flood of departures. Highly educated Africans continue to leave even cities with the most opportunities at an alarming rate. Most head for either Europe or the U.S. Increasingly, Middle Eastern countries will attract African talent too. Alas, for the next few decades at least, no matter how many professional Africans return home, their numbers will be dwarfed by the steady flow of departures. While the truth hurts, the talented African still would rather success modestly in a foreign land than become a great success in his own country. The reasons are not purely economic either, which makes the problem more difficult to discuss or even identify.

One side note: The FT’s coverage of Africa continues to set the highest standard for breadth and sophistication. While the human touch is often absent from FT stories, the paper’s editors deserve applause for bringing coverage of African political-economic issues and news into the media mainstream.

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