News / Africa

Ghana Faces Worrying Brain Drain

IOM spokesman, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, tells VOA a growing number of highly skilled young professionals are heading toward countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Ghana Faces Worrying Brain Drain
Ghana Faces Worrying Brain Drain

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The International Organization for Migration says an increasing number of qualified, educated young Ghanaians are migrating to foreign countries.  It says this so-called "brain drain" could affect the country's economic and development prospects. 

Ghana remains attractive for migrants from West African countries because of its political stability and relative economic well being.

But, at the same time, a new study shows many educated Ghanaians who are unable to find suitable employment at home are going abroad in search of work. 

The study by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 70 percent of Ghanaian migrants stay in West Africa.  But, it says this trend is starting to change.

IOM spokesman, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, tells VOA a growing number of highly skilled young professionals are heading toward countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

"The report, for instance, shows that 56 percent of the doctors who are trained in Ghana and 24 percent of the nurses trained in Ghana are now working abroad," he said. "Similarly the report shows that 60 percent of faculty positions in polytechnics for instance and 40 percent of positions in university remain vacant because there simply are not enough qualified people to take up those positions." 

IOM says the co-called "brain drain," which has been increasing since the 1990s, is worsening labor shortages in critical sectors such as health and education.  It says Ghana does not have enough qualified teachers to train the next generation of nurses and doctors.

Chauzy says poor working conditions and the lack of opportunities for career advancement are pushing qualified Ghanaians to seek greener pastures abroad.

"It is unfortunately mostly a matter of money," he said.  "The report shows, for instance, that a Ghanaian doctor finding employment, let us say in Canada, will have a salary 25 times superior to the salary this person could have had in Ghana." 

"So, obviously, one of the main driving factors is the gap between salaries inside the country and salaries that can be had outside of the country, especially in developed northern countries such as Canada, the UK and the United States of America," he added. 

The number of Ghanaians estimated to be living abroad ranges between one-and-a-half and three million.  IOM says a positive impact of this growing emigration is that remittances to Ghana have increased dramatically. 

The Bank of Ghana estimates remittances increased from $476 million in 1999 to nearly two billion dollars in 2008. 

The report recommends Ghana create programs to encourage qualified Ghanaians to return to home for short periods of time so they can impart their skills to young people at home.

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