In the wake of this year’s World Economic Forum, President Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius has called for an end to the African brain drain and an increase in funding for science, technology and innovation across the African continent. As deputy chair of the Planet Earth Institute, President Gurib-Fakim used her speech at the World Economic Forum to announce a new Planet Earth initiative aimed at increasing R&D spending in Africa. The Institute believes science and technology innovation will be the key drivers of development in the coming years.
Dr Alvaro Sobrinho founded the Planet Earth Institute with the intention of furthering the scientific advancement of Africa. That mission has be realised through several high-profile projects, including the building of a research centre and the funding of 10,000 PhD over the next decade. Yet despite the successes, funding for science in Africa remains well below the global average.
Poor funding and lack of opportunities have driven the few scientists that continent has produced to seek employment in more lucrative countries outside of Africa, a process known as brain drain. To reverse this trend, President Gurib-Fakim and Dr Alvaro Sobrinho argue, Africa must provide adequate opportunities for domestic scientists to pursue interesting and meaningful research. Together they are calling for the creation of an STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) fund to invest in research projects, the education of scientists and African tech.
While such funding does already exist, the pair argue that is must be dramatically increased and more effectively focused. If the brain drain is to be halted, or even reversed, more scientists must be trained and educated and given real reasons to remain in Africa. With less than 100 scientists per million inhabitants, compared to global average of 800, Africa still has a long way to go. But with the help of initiatives like the Planet Earth Institute’s the tide may be turning.