Fellow on-lookers, stakeholders, and donors of Education in Africa.
The theme of this maiden welcome and launch of DIANA ry is “Reversing and demystifying Brain Drain in the new normal era through the African Diaspora”. DIANA (Diaspora Academic Network for Africa) is looking at the future, thus avoids to take the reader back to the normal narratives about the effects of brain drain on Africa’s development; how there are many more Nigerian Medical Doctors in the United Kingdom of 68 million than in Nigeria of 200 million people. DIANA ry believes you want to hear something new because the negative and positive effects of brain drain and brain gain are respectively well known. This novelty can only be found in the background and motivations behind the creation of DIANA ry.
DIANA ry wants to have the evidence base of every decision it takes. To this regards, DIANA ry’s is still to complete a study (stopped due to insufficient resources), at least in the case of Europe, which is showing that some of the well-educated, brilliant and gifted Africans who emigrated to Europe in the past 30 years have not been adequately integrated, professionally. Many of the African Ph.D. graduates are not in careers which they studied for, are underemployed. Many go into lower-skill demanding jobs (taxi driving, cleaning, food distribution, open grocery shops, etc.). Others switched to Nursing (for which they did not intend initially) because of job stability or pay. A few of the Ph.Ds. are covered under the social welfare schemes of their countries. Some are in academia but lack career and Professional stability; short and fixed contracts, are often in and out of academia. We asked this question: Why this waste, given the experience that I once met a department in an African University where the most qualified was a master’s degree holder and the majority of the staff were bachelor’s degree holders. When I reported to a Ugandan colleague he fondly laughed and called it “peer teaching”.
However, as a matter of fact, a majority of the doctorates and master degree holders in the diaspora express they will like to live in the countries where they are because x and y is not in Africa, or if b or c changes in their African countries, they will return (see publication hereafter). We, therefore, concluded that “why don’t all Africans stay where they live and work for Africa” at a distance, teach and engage in research collaboration remotely and visit to support Africa of knowledge where and when necessary. In fact, technology nowadays has made it possible to invigilate examinations from a distance.
One of the co-founders, Dr Cosmas Lambini from Ghana resident in Germany (to which I remain entirely grateful) sought to find out what effects this bold decision to reverse the African brain drain will have on the hosting countries. The effects, according to our conversation was insignificant “since the Africans in the diaspora will still work and pay taxes in their host countries, contribute both to their host and home countries’ knowledge economy”. “It is all about a thorough and equal brain circulation, balancing the effects of migration” we agreed. Since then, I and Cosmas have relentlessly sought to push this idea through the European Commission to which we remain very grateful for the wonderful opportunity the European Commission gave both I and Dr Lambini, as Erasmus Mundus alumni, and for listening and promoting this idea. We equally remain grateful for the African chapter of Erasmus Mundus Alumni, ASAF, and the service provider Mosaic for providing us the avenue in the April 2021 ASAF Conference and registering skills development back to Africa as an agenda of its October Café Meeting. However, since this idea was too big to deserve its own institutional niche and find funding, it was appropriate to create as its own Non-Governmental organization.
The second motivation was offered by the “new normal”, phenomenon that has emerged during the covid19 crises, notably the ongoing digitization processes and phenomena, which have ushered in unprecedented platforms and possibilities of knowledge transfer, delivery, and circulation from distant locales. A lot of the contribution by DIANA ry fellows will be digitally and remotely but contact teaching and physical meetings remain intact in the professional Programmes since some disciplines require the actual visits of the experts such as for laboratory practices.
Personal history and background also have their place in such initiatives. Suffice it to say that the Co-founder of this initiative, Dr Doh Pascal who holds a Ph.D. in a rare discipline (Higher Education Management) has since been in Europe for close to two decades, worked only for Africa. His heart has never left Africa. His dissertation was about Africa. His involvement in development cooperation and higher education partnerships about Africa. His conferences are all about Africa and all his publications address knowledge and higher education issues in Africa while the resident is in Europe. Dr Doh is sure that his colleagues at the Association of African Universities, Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Education, and unit in charge of African higher education at the European Commission, ADEA, African Union, AUF, Vlir-Ous will all testify, this. Dr. Doh is also the founder of another important initiative, the Finland-Africa platform for Innovation (FAPI) which in 2021 received funding of 4 million euros from the Finnish Ministry of Education. This initiative orientates Finland’s participation in one of the SDGs Finland is best at, SDG9 (innovation), a cross-cutting SDG to address other SDGs through Education and Research.
The necessity to address several continental and global agendas related to Africa also influenced us. The African Union highlights the role of Africa’s intellectual diaspora in the continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25), the 2063 Agenda and in the kickoff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) especially implications for Academia-Private Sector-Diaspora Collaborations. To these can be added the recognition of African alumni and diaspora to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Knowledge, science, teaching, research, cultural competence has been highlighted as important in the attainment of the sustainable development goals, Agenda 2030 of the United Nations. Several communications of the European Commission, Parliament, and the Council decisions express Europe’s high interest to strengthen cooperation with third countries in the field of higher education while paying attention to the risk of brain drain.
Lastly, permit us to highlight that the initiative was also influenced by our recent study which found that many African students and scholars abroad are increasingly being conscious that once abroad, they can serve Africa. This study focuses on 35 brilliant African scientists, potentially star scientists, shows that nearly all of them who excel abroad in their international networks were carrying out projects in Africa. These “Fellows serve Africa irrespective of their geographical locations. They are globally connected but locally engaged. They conduct research on topics of global concern but relate them to Africa. They teach and transmit knowledge to Africa through various distant and even physical approaches. They can be resident in Africa but connected to and carrying out scientific activities in international centers of excellence” (Doh & Jauhiainen 2020, 10)
Ladies and Gentlemen
DIANA ry has been launched in the diaspora in one of the world’s citadel of knowledge, education, and innovation, Finland with immediate branch chapter in Berlin (Germany) and California, USA and will extend to Canada, France, Belgium, and Spain. DIANA ry is finally here to facilitate the involvement of the African intellectual diaspora in remote teaching and research collaboration as well as contact activities with African universities and research organizations. The activities of DIANA are spelled out in different “Professional Mobility Programmes”, Virtual and contact. DIANA-ry shall conduct on behalf of the African Diaspora communities the selection of Fellows and place at the disposal of the African Universities. DIANA ry’s operations are need-based i.e., based on the expressed needs of African Universities for expertise. DIANA ry’s management has a wonderful network and enough experts trained (with Ph.Ds. and Master in Higher Education Management) to outsource African academic expertise from Europe, United States, and other parts of the world. Technically, DIANA ry is composed of a pool of experts drawn from different knowledge fields who assess the expertise of potential Fellows from the African Intellectual Diaspora and recommend it to the appropriate office of DIANA ry. DIANA ry has country representatives to reach the grassroots, the diaspora intellectuals, and home representatives who promote the use of this diaspora expertise in Africa. DIANA ry will amongst others
- Involve diaspora experts of African descent and their colleagues in research and education delivery of African universities and related education and R & D institutions.
- Increasing the capacity of research and education delivery of African universities and related education and R & D institutions.
- Facilitate Professional Mobility of the African intellectual diaspora with Africa
- Fill research and teaching gaps in African countries
- Undertake and facilitate the placement of African intellectual diaspora in African universities and related industry organizations.
- Internationalize education, science, and research training in African universities and related industrial organization
- Improve the quality of education and research excellence in African universities i.e. through increased quantity and quality of teachers and research trainers from the diaspora pool.
- Mobilize resources to facilitate the placement and contribution of African diaspora in the academics, scientific and technological, and industrial developments of African countries
- DIANA ry indirectly addresses other bigger and broader Pan-African and international cooperation objectives such as of the African Union and partners such as
- Enhance solidarity and familiarity of the African intellectual diaspora to the African continent.
- Enhance solidarity and inter-African cooperation in the diaspora towards Africa.
Our preliminary research shows that many diaspora academics have been either to several of the 28 Schengen countries, countless different states in the United States and Canada, and Asia. But very few points one or more African countries beyond their home countries. Similarly, cooperation between academics of different African countries in the diaspora.
Dear African education donors,
At the dawn of the covid19, a lot of partnerships have been built and funds mobilized for education in Africa. However, much has been oriented to basic and secondary education and very little on higher education in Africa. Africa’s socio-economic and technological transformation cannot only rely on basic and secondary education. Higher education could transform the different MDGs. We recently argued at the Science Summit, 76 UNGA that Universities are involved in all the SDG. Investment to spur the African intellectual diaspora to contribute to Africa’s knowledge economy is timely. This is a good initiative to put your money in! It is politically correct for a just global knowledge economy, balanced globalization, and equal brain circulation. Permit me to thank all those who contributed to building and launching this initiative but above all, the wonderful team members who volunteered or are recruited to kick start DIANA ry in the major European and American cities as well as our local representatives and ambassadors in Africa.
Long Live Global Partnership, Long live the African Intellectual Diaspora, Long Live DIANA ry.