Windhoek — President Hage Geingob has appealed to African immigrants living in the diaspora to help provide the much-needed human, social and financial capital to their countries of origin in order to address the skills needed for development.
Geingob, who yesterday at State House welcomed a group of young women comprising Cameroon nationals and Namibians who studied in the west African country, said the days are gone when people living in the diaspora were referred to as brain drain.
Most of the Cameroonians in the group have been living in the United States of America, while some are based in the United Kingdom.
The women, who studied at the Saker Baptist College in Limbe, Cameroon in the late 1970s are in Namibia for their 40th re-union.
Cameroon is one of the west African countries that hosted Namibian refugees to attain secondary education before Namibia's independence.
Geingob said the phenomenon has since changed to be referred to brain gain, as those living in the diaspora have the much-needed capacity and resources because of their skills and strong networks.
"In the past, we used to say when you are in America or UK is brain drain. But today it's not the case, you brain gain. So, you gain brain and as long as you can identify your country and you do it for Africa. We like that, its brain gain. Be there, but know you are African and bring back money and knowledge. Don't come empty-handed," Geingob maintained.
Leaders in developing nations are increasingly concerned about the economic impact of losing their highly qualified citizens to the various lucrative opportunities available in more developed countries, particularly countries in the West. This phenomenon is popularly known as brain drain and refers to the high rate of exit of those whose skills, capabilities, and characteristics may be an asset to the countries that they leave. For a variety of reasons, including political instability, inferior educational and professional opportunities, and the selective immigration policies of developed countries, educated people and professionals from many developing countries have left their homes and settled in the industrialised world.
A study has found that currently, approximately 240 million people are living in countries other than those they were born in. This figure mostly includes engineers, scientists, physicians, nurses, academics and other highly skilled professionals.
The group is in the country to renew their contact with their Namibian counterparts. They echoed the president's sentiments that living in the diaspora should be seen and viewed as a brain gain, and there is a need to bring back money and skills to Africa.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila narrated her exile journey in Sierra Leone. She said at the time they felt a sense of belonging as they were also welcomed in foreign countries, despite the fact that they were refugees.
She said many Namibians went to do their studies in west African countries. According to her, many Namibians who studied in west Africa are serving in various capacities, such as government and the private sector.
"We believe the experience we had there would propel us to ensure we maintain the human contacts apart from the economic integration we are trying to pursue for us to realise the vision of a United Africa that is economically integrated. We can have the policies and infrastructure, and always say we have succeeded to achieve freedom and independence in Africa, but how much really is that we have done if we continue to see one another as foreigners."
Ndeshi Shikwambi, who is the group representative, explained they were a group of about 90 young women during 1979, of whom some were Namibians studying in Cameroon. She said they graduated in 1984 - they were about 60 women and 20 of them have since passed on. She explained that only 20 made it for the re-union.