Can West Africa Curb Its Mind Drain?

There’s an assumption {that a} new technology stepping out into the job market will convey with them recent concepts, and new power, paving the trail ahead for his or her nation’s future. However what if that technology of younger individuals took all of their abilities…someplace else? 


That is referred to as mind drain. It’s the outflow of important minds from international locations to areas with extra alternative. Right now, this drain is rising as a significant concern for the way forward for West Africa, the place gifted and succesful professionals—docs, engineers—are leaving their residence international locations. 


Among the many issues of this mind drain is that the way forward for Africa shall be left to a brand new wave of army leaders, slightly than an aspiring skilled class. 


The longer term prosperity of the worlds youngest continent is in danger if it loses its expertise. The contagion impact—the place corruption, coups, and lack of financial alternative lead individuals to depart, driving additional instability—may make issues even worse.


I’m Gabrielle Sierra. And that is Why It Issues. Right now, can West African international locations escape this vicious mind drain cycle?


Ebenezer OBADARE: The emigration of experience out of Africa, not simply when it comes to mind, when it comes to the medical docs, the nurses, the architects, the legal professionals, the engineers, that’s the basic definition of mind drain, it’s true. However what tends to get not noted of the dialog can be the brawn drain, proper? Skilled footballers, plumbers.


That is Ebenezer Obadare.


OBADARE: I’m the Douglas Dillon senior fellow for Africa research right here on the Council on International Relations. I wish to say that I cowl all the things underneath the African solar. Each younger one that thinks there isn’t any future forward for them, desires to depart. Which is why in case you take a look at the numbers and the demographics of individuals on the border with Mexico, making an attempt to cross over into america. An growing variety of these persons are younger Africans: Nigerians, Senegalese, Gambians, Sierra Leoneans who’ve stowed away on ships and have simply regarded for various alternatives to depart as a result of they need higher alternatives for themselves. In order that’s your mind drain proper there, however I feel it’s value emphasizing that we shouldn’t simply give attention to the mind. More and more, the brawn can be turning into essential.


Greater than 10 million West Africans left their residence international locations in 2020. Whereas two out of three migrants keep on the continent, a rising quantity are shifting to america and Europe—the share of West African emigrants residing in North America has tripled previously three a long time.


The bulk immigrate legally, however an growing quantity are coming via irregular channels. 59,000 African migrants have been detained on the U.S.-Mexico border final 12 months, greater than four-times as many as in 2022. Three of the 4 largest origin international locations have been in West Africa.


And it’s not simply highly-educated individuals which can be included in these statistics. There’s additionally been a rise in what Ebenezer calls a brawn drain. The result’s a local weather during which an enormous proportion of the inhabitants is contemplating leaving. 


Gabrielle SIERRA: A number of years in the past we did this episode and it was referred to as the Future is African. And it’s about how a inhabitants growth in Africa may make it way more of a strong power on the planet. You realize you’re on the bottom talking to individuals on daily basis? What’s the sensation within the air on staying or leaving? 


Aanu ADEOYE: Once we conceptualize migration, we consider individuals arriving on boats, individuals taking extremely troublesome journeys throughout the deserts to get to Libya after which making an attempt to get to Europe, or individuals going via the Darién Hole to get to america. 


That is Aanu Adeoye.


ADEOYE: I’m the West Africa correspondent for the Monetary Instances. I’m primarily based in Lagos. That principally simply means I cowl West Africa for the FT and components of Central Africa as nicely. However you see a state of affairs in West Africa significantly the place most people who find themselves younger, center class, and educated need to depart the nation as a result of there’s a scarcity of expert employees globally. And so, in case you’re a physician, otherwise you’re an engineer, otherwise you’re a nurse in one in all these international locations, there’s likelihood that there’s a rustic someplace else that would use your expertise, that would use your abilities. 

Information Central TV: Younger individuals throughout numerous skilled fields, particularly from the medical and tech sectors search greener pastures in European international locations with no plans of return.

CGTN Africa: The affect of mind drain on Africa’s well being sector is extreme. Docs and nurses are leaving in massive numbers, resulting in important shortages in international locations like Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.

DW Information: I imagine that practising drugs in Nigeria was simply getting a bit extra hostile and I simply needed to have the ability to thrive, in order that was the rationale I made a decision to make the transfer. 


SIERRA: So what do we have to find out about Africa’s migration motion proper now?


OBADARE: One is to acknowledge simply the sheer numbers of younger individuals, not simply in West Africa, however Africa usually. Africa is by all accounts, the world’s youngest continent, the typical age is nineteen. So what meaning, that there’s large strain for these younger individuals to succeed, to do issues that they see younger individuals in different components of the world doing. That’s bringing a number of constructive strain on the federal government in West African international locations when it comes to politics, strain for transparency, for standard illustration and all of that. How are these international locations doing? Are they assembly younger individuals’s expectations? Do younger individuals see their future in these respective international locations? The reply to that’s younger persons are pissed off as a result of after they go searching them, they don’t see any future forward for them.


ADEOYE: And primarily most individuals have determined that they’re going to vote with their ft. And we’ve seen this exodus of significantly, once more, younger, center class, educated… as a result of migrating “legally” isn’t low cost. It’s costly. And so, you have got that strand of people that have determined to depart. And there’s additionally the individuals who possibly they’re not as educated or they don’t have the assets emigrate, are additionally pondering of migrating as a result of clearly, if the center class is being squeezed, it’s going to be worse for people who find themselves struggling to start with. 


This isn’t a brand new story. West Africa has seen waves of emigration lately—particularly postpandemic. Within the West African nation Cameroon, one-third of all medical college graduates left the nation final 12 months. And the variety of nurses and midwives within the nation is now at its lowest level in additional than twenty years. This dynamic performs out all throughout the globe, generally to the advantage of america and different rich international locations, which have typically been the recipient of these professionals.


But it surely comes at an essential price to the supply international locations and areas, and this price is rising in West Africa because the area experiences coups, a worsening financial outlook, and an general lack of alternative.


SIERRA: Do you suppose that mind drain is self-reinforcing? 


OBADARE: It may be. Why do individuals need to come to america? Why do individuals need to go to Canada? Why do individuals need to go to the UK? Why are individuals fleeing Zimbabwe, why are individuals fleeing South Africa? Outdoors Africa, why are individuals fleeing Venezuela? The widespread denominator within the international locations the place persons are fleeing is failure of governance, collapse of infrastructure, and the notion that there isn’t any future for younger individuals in these international locations. When you attend to all these three elements, then you’ll be able to arrest the state of affairs. That’s why they’re leaving. I used to be simply numbers the opposite day, and this isn’t simply younger individuals as in individuals 19, 20, however individuals throughout the 20 to 35 belt. There’s a New York Instances story that I examine Senegal, the place somebody went to an elementary college and was talking to the younger individuals. After which in a selected classroom of about 25 to 30 college students, I feel he requested the query, “What number of of you need to depart?” And I feel all the class raised their hand. And it was like, “Wow, this isn’t good.” So your consideration is then drawn to the basic query as to why. And I feel you don’t need to look far and huge for the reply to that query. It’s concerning the poor high quality of governance in lots of African international locations.


In response to a survey performed in 2022, over half of Africans aged 18 to 24 are more likely to take into account emigrating within the subsequent few years, citing financial hardship and lack of instructional alternatives as their prime causes.


SIERRA: To not sound chilly, however we’re right here at Why it Issues, I’m sitting right here within the U.S. Why ought to this mind drain matter to individuals exterior of West Africa?


OBADARE: It’s an important query. From time to time dialog about Africa comes on the desk, and it’s punctuated with a priority for the way forward for Africa. Whether or not you’re speaking broadly about growth otherwise you’re speaking about democracy, you’re speaking about political reforms. You have an interest within the progress that African international locations need to make within the instant future. If all these plans are going to succeed, no matter technique you prepare dinner up, no matter coverage reforms you provoke, no matter grand visions and concepts you set ahead, to have any likelihood of success, Gabrielle, you want individuals to execute them.


In response to a 2023 Freedom Home report, the nation with the steepest decline in freedom over the previous decade is the West African nation Burkina Faso. And making the highest ten alongside it have been fellow West African states Guinea and Mali, each of which skilled coups in 2021.


However political unrest isn’t the one factor hindering the area’s growth. Lengthy earlier than extreme floods inundated the area and destroyed essential crops in 2022, West Africa was already going through its worst meals disaster in 10 years, with greater than 27 million individuals going through meals insecurity.


A mixture of those elements has saved West Africa far beneath averages on many growth indicators. And if this cycle of mind drain continues, that growth will proceed to be hindered.


OBADARE: You want experience. So there isn’t any grand coverage reform that we spend money on from the standpoint of, not simply america, from the west, that won’t require having extremely expert individuals to execute it. Within the instructional sector, you’re going to want certified PhDs and professors. You’re going to want docs, you’re going to want nurses, you’re going to want all types of technicians. It then issues that these skills, that experience, that know-how is saved in Africa, proper? Not as a result of we don’t need migration. I’m not saying migration to the west must be restricted, but when we actually need the most effective for Africa, on the very least we’ve to decide to serving to African international locations maintain their greatest.


One of many sectors during which Africa is struggling to maintain its greatest is well being care. Hundreds of docs are actually leaving West Africa yearly, simply years after Ebola demonstrated the area’s vulnerability. Nonetheless, well being care is simply one of many industries most affected by mind drain.


SIERRA: Do you are feeling like issues have accelerated lately? The pandemic was fairly brutal for African economies, and Nigeria particularly is now going through its worst financial disaster in a long time. Did you see something change earlier than and after the pandemic?


ADEOYE: On a wider African scale, you have got this example the place with the pandemic, African international locations, fortunately weren’t as hit well being smart, however economically issues received actually powerful for individuals. After which simply as African international locations have been beginning their emergence and making an attempt to place the horrors of COVID behind them, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to increased meals costs, increased power costs that economies that have been already shaky principally have been hit with a second obstruction in lower than two years. So, it’s like all of those confluence of things that made issues simply change into horrible for individuals.


SIERRA: Are there some international locations in West Africa which can be feeling the results of this mind drain greater than others?


OBADARE: When you take a look at Nigeria, inhabitants 220 million, the GDP is between 67 and 77 p.c of West Africa’s. It’s bleeding individuals and it’s feeling it. Once I went again residence in December, I spoke to individuals at these little roundtables with my associates, and there have been simply complaining concerning the lack of understanding in important areas. The Nigerian Medical Affiliation stated in one in all its studies that there are hospital wards the place there are not any docs, the place there are not any nurses. 


Regardless of Nigeria’s inhabitants of 218 million, the nation solely has 24,000 licensed docs – meaning one medical physician for each 5,000 individuals, in comparison with one for each 250 individuals in rich international locations. This has led Nigeria to contemplate a compulsory 5-year service for docs who’re skilled within the nation as an answer to a worsening drawback.


OBADARE: No nation can afford to lose medical personnel, a minimum of not on the price at which Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, Senegalese are dropping them. I instructed you the quantity for Nigerian docs. Over the past 5 years or so, greater than 70,000 Nigerian nurses have left. So that you’re speaking a couple of state of affairs, which there are international locations that actually can’t afford to hemorrhage experience or expertise, are those hemorrhaging them. Which implies that these international locations change into increasingly more weak. So it’s one factor that you’ve nurses and docs who’re complaining that they’ve not been paid and so they need to be paid, and so they want their instruments to have the ability to do their job. It’s one other factor if you enter a hospital and also you want important surgical procedure, you want a analysis for an issue and all of that, and there may be no one to do this. And that’s precisely what’s happening. And the issue is manifest in different West African international locations. However the give attention to Nigeria is essential as a result of it’s the most important participant within the subregion and you may see the sample in different components of West Africa by what’s happening in Nigeria.


SIERRA (25:08):

So Nigeria in an overarching approach is absolutely consultant of the issues the entire area is going through.


OBADARE: It’s. With regard to mind drain, sure.


ADEOYE: Look, I imply, Nigerians are sometimes accused of pondering the world revolves round us. It’s one thing that I feel People are additionally accused of some occasions. I feel you’ll be able to see among the patterns in that. It’s not simply in Nigeria. I journey throughout the area for work and I discuss to younger individuals, and I hear the identical frustration as nicely, people who find themselves pissed off with the dearth of financial alternatives. So, it’s simply the identical patterns you can see in Nigeria are principally rising elsewhere. The strategy during which persons are leaving the nation would possibly differ barely. However I feel general, beneath all of it, there’s this immense frustration that persons are feeling concerning the state of their international locations principally. One of many narratives within the 2010s was about this rising center class in Nigeria. However two recessions later, two foreign money devaluations later, the economic system has fallen off a cliff since 2015. And so, you’ll be able to principally simply map the time that issues began getting worse for most individuals. And I feel there was a ballot in 2019 that confirmed that I feel 40 p.c of Nigerian adults that they interviewed expressed a want emigrate and say they have been pondering of doing it throughout the subsequent 5 years. It’s 2024 now, so it’s 5 years now. And that was the best variety of any nation that was surveyed on this ballot. Anecdotally, and likewise from the information, you’ll be able to see that individuals both need to depart or persons are pondering of simply leaving.


In response to a report by the Africa Middle for Strategic Research, extra Africans at the moment are prepared to depart their residence international locations than ever earlier than.


And as we stated, Africa is exceedingly younger; the continent is projected to make up 42 p.c of the world’s youth inhabitants by the top of this decade.


SIERRA: I’m curious, how does it really feel being round only a group of people who find themselves simply so younger?


ADEOYE: So, it’s a really fascinating factor since you see that most individuals don’t have, for instance, the reminiscences of among the worst intervals of this nation. As lately because the ’90s, Nigeria had a army dictator, and there’s individuals who have by no means skilled that. The nation is at the moment going via financial turmoil proper now. It’s horrible, nevertheless it’s not the worst this nation has ever skilled. However for a great deal of younger individuals, that is as unhealthy because it will get. And objectively, inflation at 30 p.c is absolutely unhealthy. However there was once 70 one thing p.c inflation sooner or later within the ’90s. So, we’ve a inhabitants that’s extremely younger, and meaning there’s people who find themselves experiencing completely different components of the nation, completely different elements of the nation for the very first time of their lives.


This sense is so widespread that it has earned a well-liked identify: Japa.

Naira Marley: Japa, Japa, Japa.

DW The 77 %: Japa, a phrase that holds the ability to ignite desires of a brand new life. 

Channels Tv: When did you Japa and why did you Japa? For a greater life primarily.

Channels Tv: We’re speaking a couple of Japa syndrome now affecting Nigeria. 

DW The 77 %: Japa, the Yoruba phrase for run.


SIERRA: So, I need to ask you a couple of time period that we’ve seen on social media to explain this phenomenon of individuals leaving Nigeria. What’s japa? How did it come to characterize the emotions of Nigeria’s youth? 


ADEOYE: Okay, yeah. So, japa means to actually flee one thing. And it was popularized by an Afrobeats singer referred to as Naira Marley. And he sang in his tune, individuals ought to japa. And he was mentioning like, “Japa, japa, japa to London.” After which he talked about different locations individuals may probably go to. And it’s simply a type of issues that simply takes on a lifetime of its personal and you may’t clarify the way it occurred. And I feel it additionally meshed with the favored feeling in 2018, 2019 in Nigeria on the time of individuals pondering of principally the way to depart Nigeria. And so, japa, it’s a Yoruba time period, which is likely one of the most important ethnic teams in Nigeria. But it surely has transcended tribe or ethnic group. Everybody makes use of it. It’s principally a verb now. Individuals say I’ve japa’ed, with the “ed” on the again. It’s a factor that’s now a part of the Nigerian lexicon. And now everybody is aware of about it. So, it’s a type of issues that simply takes on a lifetime of its personal. We are able to speak about financial theories and political no matter, however simply this 4 letter phrase simply encapsulates the whole thing of what we’ve been discussing this entire time.




Whereas younger professionals are starting to depart West Africa, the area is dealing with a surge in political upheaval during which a few of these left behind, who maybe don’t have assets to depart, are throwing assist behind populists and coup management.


ADEOYE: I feel the fascinating factor concerning the Africa’s “youth dividend,” we’ve at all times, once I say we, individuals have at all times talked about this uncritically and saying it and mentioning the youth as an unalloyed good when individuals don’t speak about the truth that it’s solely helpful when you have jobs for these younger individuals. I cowl radicalization and stuff taking place within the Sahel, is that this semi-arid strip within the Sahara, proper south of the Sahara. And you’ve got international locations there like Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali which were affected by jihadis insurgencies for the most effective a part of the final decade. And what occurs probably the most is a number of the individuals who joined these teams aren’t essentially motivated by ideology. And that is from me speaking to safety officers from these international locations and from western international locations who work there. And a lot of the drawback is as a result of individuals don’t have jobs and so they’re pissed off, they’ve grievances towards their nation. And these teams, these rebel teams, they’re very intelligent. I keep in mind speaking to some French safety official who instructed me, look, if somebody is unemployed and also you give them $50 per week and and a kalashnikov, and a bike, that’s an excellent deal for somebody who’s unemployed, as a result of the choice is that they don’t have something to do. So, it’s like having plenty of younger individuals is simply a bonus if there’s work for them.


OBADARE: When you look again to among the coup d’etats that passed off over the past two, three years, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and all of that, one component that got here out that puzzled lots of people is younger individuals welcoming the army, showing to welcome the army. And my interpretation of that has at all times been, it’s not as if these younger individuals need troopers in energy. What this message they’re sending is that liberal democracy as practiced in these international locations has not been working for them. And it’s one of many the explanation why younger individuals in West Africa and in Africa usually are fleeing to extra economically affluent and democratically steady international locations.

CBS Information: America is suspending safety cooperation with army forces in Niger. Per week after troopers ousted the nation’s president and his authorities.

PBS NewsHour: Right now, troopers in Gabon seized energy instantly after election outcomes have been introduced.

DW Information: One other African chief toppled by the military. Whose flip will or not it’s subsequent?


SIERRA: So since 2020, there have been 9 profitable coups in West and Central Africa. It looks as if a posh state of affairs: younger persons are each repelled by what’s happening however left no choices for achievement, contributing to a ruthless cycle of political turmoil. Are you able to communicate extra to this? How is the political state of affairs in West Africa contributing to mass migration?


OBADARE: I feel following the coups d’etat which have taken place over the past three years, I feel increasingly more individuals have given up. You may have all these leaders in Africa who’ve been there eternally, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Nguema in Equatorial Guinea, Biya in Cameroon. So in case you take a look at the army coups, one vital factor that occurred was that younger individuals got here out. To not protest the coups, however to precise assist for the coup plotters to say, “Hey, please welcome.” And I’m certain even the troopers should have been shocked like, “You’re not supposed to love us, we simply took over energy, we simply overwrote your mandate.” However that’s not what occurred. And I feel that’s giving a number of younger individuals nervousness about their future. Right here’s one thing I feel all of us need to find out about younger individuals. There’s a sense during which youth tradition globally is similar. We reside in a world during which photographs, concepts, ideas, practices, discourses, flow into ceaselessly, and younger individuals devour all these items via TikTok and Fb and Instagram. It’s one factor as an example to be pissed off about what’s happening in your nation. It’s one other factor to have this sense that issues could possibly be higher and to be speaking to all your folks in different components of the world and to be observing issues happening there. After which to in the end ask that query, why not right here, why not me? So in that sense, persistent political instability, political uncertainty, financial melancholy, all these issues are main younger individuals to need to depart, and contributing to mind drain.


SIERRA: Do individuals blame international locations like France and the UK, which clearly colonized Africa for many years, for present issues?


ADEOYE: That is the fascinating half, proper? In Nigeria, when persons are speaking about how issues have gone unsuitable, individuals normally don’t blame colonialism. Individuals save a number of their energies for the elite class in Nigeria, for the ruling class in Nigeria. After which in case you go to love, francophone talking international locations, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, they’ve a giant grievance with France. I feel a few of it’s most likely how the UK and France differed of their angle in direction of Africa post-independence. The UK left most international locations alone and retreated into its personal shell. France had Françafrique, which was this method of African elites principally working for French pursuits in alternate for diplomatic cowl and all of that stuff. I feel you’re more likely to discover a Nigerian dwelling in diaspora, blame the UK for the nation’s woes than a Nigerian dwelling in Nigeria. Most Nigerians dwelling in Nigeria reserve all of their anger for the ruling class on this nation.


Anti-French sentiment has generally bubbled over into assist for a shocking associate: Russia.


SIERRA (34:47): Once we speak about why this issues to america, a number of these younger individuals celebrating coups have been waving Russian flags.


OBADARE: They have been. They have been additionally burning French flags.




OBADARE: It’s a case of two flags. It’s value speaking about. So a part of the critique of liberal democracy and frustration with the way in which it really materializes, is that it’s not delivered economically for younger individuals. However there’s a bigger story which can be stoked by China, by Russia, by these international locations which can be engaged in geopolitical competitors with america. And the story goes like this, democracy isn’t for you in Africa. It’s a ruse concocted by america and western international locations. What you want is your personal approach of governing yourselves, so therefore Afro-democracy. The phrases of that Afro-democracy are by no means actually specified. And in case you take a look at it very nicely, the individuals are likely to market it are African leaders as a result of it permits them to get away with homicide, virtually talking. However Russia and China are available in and so they use that to say, america isn’t your good friend, western international locations aren’t your good friend. You understand how I do know that? They colonized you. Oh, by the way in which, they haven’t let go, there’s neocolonialism. However I didn’t colonize, we’re your good friend, settle for us. In order that’s what’s happening there, that’s why you see the Russian flag. Russia turns into a metaphor for that entity that’s not the west, for that entity that’s not america. Russia and China are the international locations which can be the international locations which can be the enemies of our perceived enemies, therefore our associates.


SIERRA: So, that leads me to my subsequent query, which is the place are individuals going? Are they going to Russia or China? Are they going to Western international locations?


ADEOYE: The UK has at all times attracted Nigerians. I feel that’s continues to be the case. The U.S. can be a vacation spot for Nigerians, particularly for individuals who need to do graduate research like PhDs. I do know fairly a couple of individuals who have moved to the states for his or her PhDs as a result of American colleges make it actively attempt to recruit individuals to hitch PhD applications. So, there’s that. The English language additionally makes it very simple for individuals to maneuver. So, there’s a giant Nigerian neighborhood within the U.S. as nicely.


As of 2017, that neighborhood measured 350,000 individuals. And the variety of Nigerians dwelling within the U.S. has grown even bigger lately, as an growing variety of Nigerians select to maneuver overseas. Throughout the pond, the UK granted over 78,000 visas to emigrating Nigerians in 2023 alone.


Unsurprisingly, younger Nigerians have probably the most adverse opinion in the entire continent concerning the path their nation is headed. 95 p.c saying issues are going badly. 


ADEOYE: Canada has additionally been intentional about getting expert migrants from the world over. However I feel what has modified within the final possibly 5 years of thereabouts is we’re seeing increasingly more individuals shifting to European international locations, say Germany or the Netherlands. And in speaking to individuals, most individuals who go there, normally engineers working for tech corporations. These are the cities which have massive tech corporations in Europe. So, due to financial alternatives, persons are being interested in international locations which can be normally not on Nigerians’ radar.


SIERRA: If you’re reporting round West Africa, what’s the sentiment amongst those that do determine to remain?


ADEOYE: Some individuals determine to remain as a result of they’ve good jobs and so they like dwelling right here. I feel one other intangible is the factor about individuals being scattered all around the globe is you type of lose the sense of neighborhood. Nigeria particularly has a giant sense of neighborhood. Personally, my brother lives overseas, proper, and I’ve a niece and a nephew. I haven’t seen them as a result of I nonetheless reside in Nigeria, they reside in Canada. Ideally, most individuals would like to reside again residence.


SIERRA: Proper. I imply you convey up your brother. A private query is you. You grew up in Nigeria, moved overseas. And now you’re again.


ADEOYE: I moved again. Yeah.




ADEOYE: I imply, I feel the reply is rather like, I like being a journalist. And so, it’s like when the chance to hitch the FT got here, I simply wasn’t able to not transfer again. Once I instructed my associates I used to be shifting again to Nigeria, most individuals have been like, why?


SIERRA: Yeah. Did lots of your folks determine to depart Nigeria additionally?


ADEOYE: Sure. Virtually everybody, both individuals I grew up with, or individuals I met as an undergrad, or no matter, now reside overseas. They reside elsewhere.


Ebenezer additionally grew up in Nigeria. However now he lives in america.


OBADARE: I moved to america in 2006, turned an American in 2015. I feel the place most individuals have an issue is with unlawful migration. In Europe, I feel it’s turning into a query of numbers. I feel most individuals, once more, welcome migration. However you do have a nook of society in a few of these societies like in Sweden, in Finland, the place persons are starting to have some reservations, to precise some reservations concerning the variety of immigrants coming in. Apart from that, I’d say america, Canada and the West. I imply, take into consideration Canada over the past 5 years or so, it’s actually opened its borders to migrants from completely different components of the world.


SIERRA: Would you ever return, what do you suppose?


OBADARE: I do return, I went to Nigeria in December. However I’m an American now. So I nonetheless have older dad and mom in Nigeria, I used to be in a position to see them the final time I went. So my roots clearly are in Nigeria. And in case you hearken to my accent, you’ll know that there’s one thing Incurably Nigerian about me, that’s not going to go away. However I at all times say don’t hearken to what individuals say, watch what they do. What do younger individuals in Africa do? They vote with their ft. The place do they go? Everyone desires to return to america. Everyone desires to go to Canada. Individuals need to go to the liberal democracies which can be on the similar time doing very nicely economically. Individuals really feel that in these international locations that there are not any arbitrary impediments standing of their approach. And so they take a look at the success that earlier generations of migrants of these international locations have been in a position to obtain and so they say, I can do it. And I’m proud to depend myself as a type of individuals. 


SIERRA: What are some options? Remedy the issue proper now Ebenezer.


OBADARE: It’s simple. I believed you weren’t going to get there. I’m prepared to unravel all the issues. Okay, america will at all times be a degree of attraction for individuals around the globe, and lengthy might that be the case. Canada, Germany, all of the European international locations, the UK. So what you need to have, and this comes again to the query of political stability that we began with. You need individuals to have a way that after they’re dwelling of their nation, that the nation itself is value investing in. One of many issues, and I communicate right here as a Nigerian, is absolutely the lack of transparency and governance, which then reverberates to different sectors of the society. I imply, the inhabitants of West Africa is true round 400 million. That’s lots of people, that’s a giant area. Probably that’s an enormous marketplace for funding, that’s a number of younger individuals who need to excel, there’s a number of power there to be tapped into. So insofar as one is of course deterred by pessimism. However I feel there’s additionally one thing to be stated for wanting on the massive image and saying, what if we get it proper in West Africa? What’s it going to imply for america? What’s it going to imply for the remainder of the world?


SIERRA: Effectively, that’s the proper bridge to my final query, which goes again to the episode we did in 2020, we referred to as The Future is African. So I believed I’d finish with a provocative query, is the long run nonetheless African?


OBADARE: That might rely upon Africans. What you at all times have in any society is potential. Mobilizing that potential, remodeling it into precise safety, welfare, prosperity for the individuals in query, it’s at all times a query of human artifice. The individuals of Africa need to do the heavy lifting. Outsiders might help, the EU might help, america might help, I encourage them to assist, I hope they do assist. However on the finish of the day, the basic questions on the way forward for Africa must be supplied by Africans themselves. Is the long run African? It may be, relying on how Africans reply.


Thanks for tuning into this season finale of Why It Issues. We shall be taking a break over the summer season and producing new episodes so regulate your feed as we head into the autumn.


For assets used on this episode and extra info, go to and check out the present notes. When you ever have any questions or strategies or simply need to chat with us, electronic mail at [email protected] or you’ll be able to hit us up on X, higher often known as Twitter at @CFR_org.


Why It Issues is a manufacturing of the Council on International Relations. The opinions expressed on the present are solely that of the friends, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on issues of coverage.


This episode was produced by Molly McAnany, Noah Berman, Asher Ross, and me, Gabrielle Sierra. Our sound designer is Markus Zakaria. Manufacturing help for this episode was supplied by Mariel Ferragamo and Kenadee Mangus. Our interns this semester are Emily Corridor Smith and Ethan Wickes. Robert McMahon is our Managing Editor. Our theme music consists by Ceiri Torjussen.


You possibly can subscribe to the present on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube or wherever you get your audio. For Why It Issues, that is Gabrielle Sierra signing off. See you within the fall!

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