It is a Myth that “ Kenya (is) hardest hit by brain drain in Africa .” (Standard,Dec.,11,2006.)
Brain drain ,which is the “problem” of international migration of high-level educated manpower from poor to rich countries, should have ceased to worry us in the 70’s when the Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand began establishing fully fledged departments and ministries for the interests of their “non-resident precious citizens” in order to be the leading beneficiaries of the $150Bn financial world of foreign remittances.
Kenyans living or working abroad are not losses for the country, regardless of their skills; qualifications and sporting talents. They are pools of resources. They, for instance, send to their families annual remittances exceeding $56M, although that is only 0.4% of the global remittances. The fact that Somaliland receives more remittances than Kenya , US$850M annually, shows how much we have fallen behind over the years in this area.
It is no longer advisable to remind students going abroad to come back home at the end of their studies. Globalization has rendered such advice obsolete since we now belong to a “world without borders.” It is up to the individual Kenyan and institutions to find their own niches and level in this competitive world. Africa after all is a net consumer of world intellectual output.
Instead of the present small number of “two million Kenyans living and working abroad” ,our target should have been ,by 2012,to have five Million Kenyans living abroad and 600,000 Professionals in the US alone and annual remittance target of US$1.5 Bn. Since we have invested heavily in education ,let the world be our fodder. It is the only way to help our surplus manpower and create mobility of labor.
What is needed urgently are structures to help the Kenyan communities in the Diaspora. We should have a “desk” for “non-resident Kenyans” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” a “ recognition” at our International Airports, Department of Immigration, Central Bank, AG’s Office and in the Office of the President. If these things are done as soon as possible, as
President Kibaki reassured us on Jamhuri Day, “things will even be much better for all of us.”