Egypt Today magazine has published some interesting, yet alarming figures on Egypt’s brain drain due to migration. What’s surprising is the a majority of Egypt’s current migrants are well-to-do, educated professionals seeking a better life elsewhere. It’s staggering just reading through the figures:

  1. The Egyptian diaspora is 2.7 million strong.
  2. Between 1998 and 2000, 15,000 Arab doctors emigrated that comes to around 20 doctors leaving each day.
  3. In 1996 alone, a full quarter of 300,000 first-degree graduates from Arab universities left the region the year they graduated.
  4. All in all, the Arab brain drain costs regional economies an incredible $1.5 billion every year.

Looking through the numbers, you start to realize that there is a problem when a nation’s cream of the crop starts to abandon ship. This brain drain inevitably leaves a void that often contributes to the erratic nature of sustainable growth in developing countries. With a diminishing lack of qualified indigenous leadership in key sectors like education, governance, and health – developing countries often find themselves in a catch 22s. It’s hard to develop efficient growth strategies in any sector if you don’t have sufficiently capable local capacity. And it’s hard to retain said local capacity when you have deficient, or ineffective growth strategies.

As I wrote before, developing nations must include their own Diaspora as part of their development and growth strategy. Instead of spending billions of dollars of aid money on ineffectual and corrupt
government programs, developing nations should redirect that money into luring it’s own Diaspora back into the leadership and investment roles that are the cornerstones to stability and sustained economic growth.

In order for Egypt’s (and Africa’s) future to thrive, it is a must that the increasingly one-way exit door be torn down and a revolving door put in it’s place, complete with a red carpet and a smiling doorman who will wish you well and welcome you back with open arms.

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