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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid