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The decision about where to live is a personal one, but as the economic climate in the West grows harsher while stories of Africa’s economic recovery and untapped potential continue to proliferate, many Africans in the diaspora have been asking themselves, “What am I doing here?”
Of course, it’s not just about economic opportunities. There’s a strong emotional component involved in the deliberations, too. As Huis Toe-veldtog(Come Home Campaign), an organization that assists skilled South Africans in returning home, writes on its website, “Life abroad is not necessarily moonshine and roses. People who leave the country, unfortunately, often only realise this when they have already paid the huge emotional and financial price attached to emigration.”
So even as we read tragic stories of African migrants risking their lives to get to Europe (where only the rich are welcome), there’s been a reverse brain drain of professionals moving back to their respective countries of origin. It’s hard to quantify the extent of this phenomenon. According to this article on the UN’s website, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental body that provides services and advice to migrants and governments, has assisted about 2,000 skilled people from 41 African countries in returning to their homelands under its Return and Reintegration of Qualified African Nationals programme, which began in 1983, but the article also notes that an increasing number of Africans are finding their way back home without official assistance, so IOM’s figures represent a fraction of the true number.
Regardless of numbers, the idea of moving back to one’s country of origin is sufficiently widespread for an 2010 IOM report to have found that about 70% of East African migrants – mainly Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians in the United Kingdom – were willing to return home permanently, while a survey by Jacana Partners, a pan-African private equity firm, of African students at the top 10 American and European business schools, showed similar results: that more than three in four hope to work in Africa upon graduation.
Read the rest of this very interesting and spot on article written by Angela Jones here.