The Brain Drain Challenge!
First, there is a fundamental need to refocus the nation’s information mindset from the current standard of “WHO YOU KNOW” to “WHAT YOU KNOW!” In order words, it’s time to start to pay homage to ‘knowledge’ (technology) than to (individual)
Wealth – Dr. Pius Okigbo’s wisdom on building a knowledge-based society refers.
The central issue is “Do we want to compete with the rest of the world”? I am sure there are compelling reasons especially for Nigeria to compete. This may not be possible without re-engineering our entire environment, infrastructure, education, work process and livelihood into information-systems-driven high technology economy. Issues of technology development are indeed issues of human resource development – which inevitably leads to the ‘development and growth’ or the ‘under-development and poverty’ of nations. Man therefore (especially the youths) becomes the prime and most essential focus for national development. Today, nations who qualify to be called ‘developed’ are indeed those who have developed great passion for knowledge and human resource development.
Sharing Emeagwali’s thought on “Technology as a Tool for Integrating Africa into the 21st Century Global Economy” – these are extracts of his views on how Africa can use knowledge to compete with the rest of the world (source & authorization to use this material: Philip Emeagwali):
BBC Network Africa: What can Technology do for Africa in the new millennium?
EMEAGWALI: “A few millennia ago, Africa were the first to enter the Agricultural Age. The first to build in stones. The first to pioneer in technology. Today, African is behind every continent in technology and as a result is the poorest continent.
Technological knowledge can be used to create wealth and alleviate poverty in Africa.Kwame Nkrumah also said; “Socialism without science is void” Therefore, we cannot reduce poverty in Africa without scientists and engineers.
The lack of technological knowledge is the reason for the wide disparity between the rich
and the poor nations. The 500 richest people on Earth have more money than the 3 billion poorest people on Earth. Because the rich nations are getting richer much faster than the poor nations, the gap between the rich and poor will continue to widen. This gap
can be closed if African nations are focus on developing an economy that is knowledge and technology based, instead of one that is based on the export of natural resources.”
Creating a new organization of work, governance, and business pre-supposes that we need a ‘New Knowledge-driven Economy’ for Nigeria – where science & technology and in particular, information and communications technologies will be the driving engine. We need a new government image with people-first obligations. This may not be
easily realized or possible without re-structuring the ministries as productive agents of governance. Who says we cannot or must not establish a Federal Ministry of Knowledge?
Selected studies have revealed that over 30 per cent of Nigeria’s human resource talents – especially in the core sciences – fostered at great expense to the state – migrate abroad annually! This translates to free allocation of about 30% of the national budget over the past three decades to benefit other nations. In gross development terms, it represents a significant factor of the nation’s economic, political and social instability experience and history – that has continued to challenge all of us.
Why should Nigeria choose and invest on knowledge (technology pursuit) of the Information Age, instead of the perpetual dependency on the export of only crude oil? In Search of an answer; let us explore importance of technology in oil exploration, extraction and export. What is the content and role of knowledge (technology) in the black gold business? In order words, what percentage of the entire value of the petroleum enterprise does knowledge constitute? Who supplies and controls the technology (knowledge)? Are there alternative sources to this knowledge or expertise? Can part or all of this knowledge be supplied by Nigerians all over the world at the current value paid to others? Finally, where will the equation of “we have the oil resources” (divided by) “they have the knowledge to find and extract our oil resources” lead us? No where?You damn right! The simple truth is that by the time our natural resources finishes, we will still be left with little or no knowledge or technology value. Whereas, those who currently supply us knowledge (technology) will continue to build on and upgrade what
they have to continue the complex journey of life survival. In the final analysis, we would have lost or sold our resources for a quarter of its real value, and would have lost abundant time needed to incubate knowledge and technology – ‘simply because we myopically decided to chase shadows, when a kindergarten should have a clear view
and understanding of a ‘mirage’.
Jump-Out Vs Jump-In (Turning the Brain Drain into a Brain Gain)
This process to “jump out” at all cost got magnified in the last 3 decades of military incursion. It somersaulted the middle class information structure and knowledge framework. The consequences are manifested in the enormous cost of imported knowledge (technology, goods & services) the nation had paid and still pay to fill the knowledge vacuum – essentially created by the brain drain. But, how do we turn the brain drain into a national brain gain? Turning our brain drain into a brain gain is indeed one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century – particularly for a
Developing nation like ours. This challenge becomes more compelling – viewed within the context of National Security and technology-related issues.
TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Without any fear of contradiction, technology development and mastery demands abundant “knowledge” build-up processes and understanding of its use and impact. This understanding is better earned through the process of “making and using technology.”
Physical technology (products of technology) is viewed as essential tools and building blocks for governance and national security.
If that is granted, we must also grant that nations who lack high technology knowledge and the work force to control and effectively manage it’s technology objectives become an embodiment of ‘national security risk! This is the ultimate fate of a technology consumer nation.
These risks are embedded in the long-term process of technology dependency factored into the gross developmental process of a nation. Nations within this group are and will remain predominantly poor, anti-people, unstable and above all corrupt. Though the cost
of technology remain astronomically high – influenced by externally packaged knowledge. Can African effectively manage its teeming population without knowledge and technology? Lets listen once more to Philip Emeagwali:
EMEAGWALI: “It is the technology of the 20th century that increased food production, reduced infant mortality rate and increased the population of Africa. A century ago, less than 100 million people lived in Africa. Today, 800 million people live in Africa. Africa cannot ignore to implement family planning. In the 21st century, Nigeria could become the third most populous country in the world. Only China and India will be larger than Nigeria and the population of Nigeria will be three times larger than Russia. Having a large labor force will not be an advantage in the new global economy of the 21st century.
The wealth of the future will be created largely by knowledge and technology and not by natural resources and a large population. Therefore, it does not make sense to have a large family of seven children who will grow up uneducated and unemployed.
Since the African economy does not have enough jobs, it will be difficult for the next generation to afford education, health services, housing and food. Reducing the number of children for each family is a requirement for reducing poverty in Africa.”
EMEAGWALI ON INFORMATION AGE: “The rich nations use knowledge and information to create wealth. Africa tries to create wealth by exporting raw materials to the more affluent nations. The lessons we learned from Nigeria is that a massive inflow
of petrodollars will not bring an economic prosperity. In exchange, Nigeria spent its petrodollars on aircrafts, cars and Swiss bank accounts.
What Africa needs to do is to acquire technological knowledge so that she can export technological products to Europe and the United States. Africa should reduce its investments in agriculture and industrialization and make long-range plans to
Leapfrog into the Information Age in which knowledge is the most valuable commodity. It happened in Ireland, Malaysia has plans to do same. And Africa can leapfrog into the Information Age by having fewer children, investing in education
and eliminating military spending. In the Information Age, millions of good paying jobs that will require computer literacy will be available.
The Internet now makes it possible for an African to be employed by an American company.
Many companies will rather pay $15,000 a year salary to an African professional than pay an American $60,000 a year. Africa can attract these high-technology companies by investing heavily in technical education, introducing lots of computer
courses and producing ONE MILLION scientists and engineers a year. There are still opportunities in computer programming.
In terms of future employment, the implication of the Internet is that an African contract programmer will not need an immigration work permit to work in the
Since high technology creates more wealth that low technology, Africa should focus on high technology. Sixty percent of the wealth in the developed nations is created
from technological knowledge. Africa must invest in technological development or risk being left behind.”
WAY FORWARD: In addressing the dynamics of new organizations considerable concern must be given to fundamental issues of technology capacity building as the engine of economic growth. These approaches must address and explore the subject of structural inter-linkages – with the primary focus of restoring the links between the
enabling environment, ‘reward system’ and ‘performance’
Our Science Policy no doubt has paid tremendous dividends to the nation over the years (however little). That cannot be said of our Technology Policy. A comprehensively dynamic and productive national economic strategy for the 21st century
growth and development will require a whole new organisation of work processes, business and governance. This strategy will not be complete nor yield fruit unless we make it a National Policy to first consider the use of qualified and capable Nigerian
Professionals – especially those in Diaspora, considered the largest concentration of knowledge and technological warehouse of the nation to-date. There is an urgent need
to establish a global Databank of all Nigerians Abroad – and build-up a dynamic database systems to identify how best their knowledge can be put to use with adequate rewards, for the purpose of national development. Africa’s development will perhaps not come to fruition without a classical example from Nigeria.
The nation’s economic pitfall is currently anchored on investment preference for finished goods and services – rather than on knowledge that invents, creates and produces the products. This pitfall manifests in our absolute appetite as a consumer nation (as demonstrated by our excessive import bills and our strangulated environment). This
further fuels our greed mentality for conspicuous consumption of essentially foreign made goods – instead of creating a significant proportion of those products ourselves.
Nations cannot develop effectively and sustain its growth and competitiveness without an internally incubated knowledge and vision. Let’s for once imagine the impact of the migration of 30% annually, of the US and/or Europe’s human resources – in the core sciences – to South East Asia or somewhere in the outer space if you like. How does this impact on their global competitiveness and future development – within the
assumption that those they left behind will continue to plan and live without giving (any) special thought to the knowledge-base of those in diaspora?
I believe we can now begin to see why Nigeria must listen to knowledge (technology)? Why indeed must we listen to Philip Emeagwali and more millions of other Nigerians like him – in Diaspora? And, who is Dr. Philip Emeagwali and why must Nigeria
(Africa) not only listen to him, but encourage and challenge him as well as benefit from his numerous contributions to human development?
There is a million and one reasons – fathomed not only in the global humiliation of more than 400 years of subjugation, cultural comma and slavery, but those which address the core-equation of the canter of gravity of current and future development of the universe. And above all, the issue that codifies the role expected of Nigeria in re-shaping the world we live in – and the legacies we must
Live behind for mankind (not only for our children) as a people.
This equation becomes more challenging and compelling to solve, because as a people, we possess the capabilities, resources, dynamism and potentials (I believe) for greatness. We must therefore learn how to deal with our weaknesses and maximize our chances to
survive – in the face of the magnifying impact of this colossal tidal wave called the Information Age.
For the records, Dr. Philip Emeagwali has become an I.T icon and an embodiment of global techno-knowledge and exclusive capabilities. There are millions of other Nigerians like him around the world – those in NASA like Engr. Balogun or Dr. Dele Ajisomo of Microbyte Inc. However, one thing that makes Emeagwali stand out on top of
the global knowledge (technology) achievers’ chart is his unusual quest and love for tackling complex technological challenges – which has made him to focus on solving problems that are essentially important to society. That is what fulfills the appetite of his human intellect and instinct. It gives him absolute satisfaction for living. What else do we expect of a super human Nigerian with a superlative IQ?
Needless to state, his rare knowledge (technology) research adventure has yielded many unusually significant fruits. Those fruits special knowledge are worth sharing with fellow Nigerians and Africans at large – if only to proof that “knowledge is the only commodity
that multiplies when shared.” The followings are few of Emeagwali’s 42 patented invention, discoveries and achievements
|01||World’s fastest computation of 3.1 billion calculations per second.||1989|
|02||World record for solving the largest partial differential equations with 8 million grid points||1989|
|03||World record for solving the largest weather forecasting equations with 128 million grid points||1990|
|04||World record for an unprecedented parallel computer speed-up of 2048 processors||1989|
|05||World record for an unprecedented parallel computer speed-up of 65536 processors||1990|
|06||First successful implementation of petroleum reservoir model on a massively parallel computer||1989|