News / Africa

Cameroon Government Lures Researchers in Diaspora

Poor working conditions have caused flight of country's best scientists

Multimedia

Audio

Cameroon teams of researcher in diverse fields are helping to breath fresh life into the arid northern regions bording the Sahara desert.  Thanks to their efforts, high-yielding fruits, vegetables and cereals now flourish in all parts of the country. Besides agriculture, others work in the fields of  HIV/AIDS and cancer research.

They represent only a small number of skilled researchers from Cameroon.  Many of them leave to settle and work abroad, depriving the country of the innovation and creativity it needs to promote development and growth.

The reasons for the brain drain are varied. Departing researchers generally talk of poor conditions, and there are problems with funding, a lack of encouragement from the government and a little recognition for their work.

Cameroonian researchers began leaving the country in the mid-1980s, when a severe economic crisis forced authorities to curtail spending.  Researchers, especially those working at the universities, watched as their salaries dropped by over 70%.

The situation deteriorated even more with the devaluation of the CFA franc.  Some researchers left their scientific work for more lucrative sectors, like business; others went into politics; and many left the country in search of better opportunities.  It was a devastating blow for research in Cameroon.

Cameroonian researcher surveys medicinal plants
Cameroonian researcher surveys medicinal plants

But the government is beginning to realize that bringing together researchers at home and abroad could significantly contribute to national development efforts. 

This year it set up a $9 million dollar fund to help modernize and improve research in the country's seven state-run universities.  It’s also funding a network of researchers and investors to transform research results into jobs.

The government has also begun holding a research showcase forum every two years called “Week of Excellence” which features scientific research and innovation. Beginning in 2007, the event, held in the capital, Yaoundé, has brought together researchers from around the country, as well as many working abroad.  This year the government has invited Cameroonian researchers in the Diaspora to return home and play a part in national development.

One of those targeted by the government in this effort is Mola David, a 39-year-old expert on renewable energy and the CEO of Mola Solaire, a solar energy company based in Germany that's expanding operations to the Caribbean islands and the United States. 

“I started my activities in Cameroon, my home country," he says, "but I had no success, so I decided to start somewhere else, in Germany.  I want to do something for my country but I have to find good conditions.  I am here to see what is possible and what is not. "

"For an entrepreneur, the important thing is to see clear rules in the country," he continues.  "If I create a company in Cameroon, I have to know the cost, the political and also the social situation because I’m taking a risk when I invest in a country."

Agricultural researchers at a maize, plantain, and cassava nursery in southwestern Cameroon
Agricultural researchers at a maize, plantain, and cassava nursery in southwestern Cameroon

Like Mola David, a good number of Cameroonian researchers abroad have become citizens of the countries where they’re working. Cameroon’s government refuses to recognize the practice, but the scientists are calling on authorities to follow the example of countries like China and South Korea. 

Years ago those countries dropped their objections to dual citizenship and took steps to encourage their researchers in the Diaspora to return home and play key roles in developing their countries.

“Cameroonians abroad need support,” says Mola.  “I’m talking about just one single thing – double nationality for Cameroonians.  There’s a number of Cameroonians who’ve decided to live abroad or to take another nationality and our government is not able to say that you can have double nationality, and they decide to stay away.

"I know that many other countries have created conditions making the way home very simple," he says.  "If these people know that there are some rules or some conditions that are good for them, they will also come back to the country."

The scientists are calling for an encouraging environment, including tax breaks, more subsidies, reduced red tape in the creation of businesses, the promotion of research results and better intellectual rights legislation.  They say steps like these would reduce brain drain and increase growth and development.

 

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More