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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs