Brain Drain and its effect on Nigeria’s Economy

Blessing Amaechi Written by Blessing Amaechi · 1 min read >

According to the Oxford advanced learners dictionary, brain drain is the emigration of highly trained or qualified people from a particular country. Also, Wikipedia refers to brain drain otherwise known as human capital flight as the emigration or immigration of individuals who have received advanced training at home. The net benefits of human capital flight for the receiving country are sometimes referred to as a “brain gain” whereas the net costs for the sending country are sometimes referred to as a “brain drain“.

Over the years, one of the confounding problems confronting Africa and most especially Nigeria is the desire by the relatively few skilled professionals to migrate in droves to industrialized countries. Some of the desired destinations to emigrate include the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Saudi Arabia; just to mention a few. This exodus of middle-class and highly skilled Nigeria out of the country has been occurring in waves since the late 1980s but has seen a massive increase over the past few years.

We are several reasons for this exodus. Some of these include lack of employment opportunities, poor remuneration, poor working condition, poor standard of living, poor health care & facilities, lack of improvement in research and advancement, insecurity, corruption, job security, contemptuous behavior of government officials, and so on. Notwithstanding the challenge of settling in a new country, many people are willing to take the risk of emigration hoping like the popular saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

The categories of people involved in this exodus include the young, middle-aged, and even older citizens.  We have professionals in Engineering, Medical, IT, transportation, and business sectors leaving the country in huge numbers. Even those who were sent by government sponsorship to complete their higher education in other countries are not willing to come back upon completion of their programs.

The general impact of these brain drains cannot be quantified enough. It has been identified as one of the factors hindering the growth and development of a nation. It is seen to have a devasting effect on the economy of Nigeria. We have relatively few doctors in the healthcare sector compared with the population; with a Doctor-Patient ratio of 4 doctors per 10,000 patients and five hospital beds per 10,000 patients (WHO report – 2020). The statistics will get worse if nothing is done to reverse this trend. It is estimated that over two million Nigerians currently reside in the US, of which 20,000 are doctors and more than 10,000 are academics (Ogbu, 2019).

Daily, the country is losing professionals who ordinarily will be working and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy. We are having reductions in the quality of services provided because the skilled professionals with the right skills are leaving the country. The government is losing tax that should have been generated from these professionals working in the country. Technology development is not progressed because most skilled individuals have left for greener pastures. Professors and well-trained lecturers have left our universities for other countries leading to poor standards in our education system. Incessant strikes have not helped matters either.

For Nigerians to grow their economy and develop, we need the services of our well-trained and skilled professionals in the country. Therefore, the government should ensure that they provide incentives to Nigerians to reduce the brain drain in Nigeria.

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