29th February 2020
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Emigration from Africa to developed countries has been a cause for concern for both host and home countries. Over the last 30 years, there has been an increase in migration of highly skilled Africans. This phenomenon called “brain drain” is the subject of a recent study in order to find out the impact on African economies.  This is because the dominant belief is that brain drain harms the economy of developing countries. However, this recent study shows otherwise.

According to the new study by African Development Bank (AFDB) focused on the role of the African Diaspora, emigration from Africa does not harm the economy, instead African Diaspora contributes positively, significantly and robustly to the improvement of real per capita income in Africa. The study also highlighted the main channels of influence and their effect in the economic development of Africa.

The results show that human capital, productivity and political contributions are effective transmission channels for this positive impact. Not only are financial remittances transmitted, the Diaspora is a channel for improving technological capital and knowledge in countries of origin. Additionally, political institutions benefit from this transfer through highly educated people participating and contributing in the definition and implementation of development policies.

An interesting finding of this research is the degree of impact the various levels of education have on the economy. Emigrants with a low level of education and low skill contribute more significantly to remittances in Africa. Highly skilled migrants send less money to their home countries. This could be attributed to the fact that high-skilled emigrants tend to integrate into host communities, bring family over and undertake long-term life projects, for example, borrowing for home or vehicle purchases.

The study says that “while high-skilled emigrants have an overall greater impact on economic development and democracy, those with a low level of education contribute more to remittances to Africa.” Overall, no matter the level of skills, the results unambiguously show that the African Diaspora in developed countries contributes significantly to the improvement of the economy in Africa.

These findings should be interpreted correctly and must not be seen as an incentive for brain drain. African governments should work to systematically reap the benefits of the diaspora community while ensuring that their economies improve significantly.

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