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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid