The German President, Dr Horst Kohler, has stated that the best way to ease the brain drain in Ghana in particular and Africa as a whole is to improve upon economic development, job creation and income generation.
Contributing to discussions on the brain drain and its effects on Ghana at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi last Friday, the German President said there was the need to make working conditions attractive, since that was the surest way to entice professionals to stay at home and assist in development.
The discussions, which formed part of the programme for the German President's four-day visit to Ghana, were patronised by students and lecturers of KNUST.
Dr Kohler said if people were sure that they would be earning some incentives, there would be no need for them to continue to stay outside or even want to move out.
He said he would want to see Ghanaian doctors and scientists staying at home for the country's development.
“I will not block mobility from Ghana to Germany but would want to see mobility from Germany to Ghana,” he said, and added that there should be an opportunity for an exchange between European doctors, scientists and nurses and their African counterparts.
That was because there was the need to meet to be able to share, since that was a sure way of life to the future, he said.
“To be honest with myself, when I meet Ghanaian doctors and scientists in Germany I get happy because I feel they demonstrate that they are as good as German doctors,” Dr Kohler said.
Citing himself as an example, the visiting President said the longer he lived outside Germany the more he learned to love Germany and that if there were to be some incentives in place for people to be sure of what they would earn, they would by all means move back home.
On his part, the Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Professor Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa, said the issue of brain drain, which engaged the German President in the discussions, was one of the topical developmental problems which had hampered the development of Ghana as a nation and Africa as a continent.
He said the brain drain problem was so aggravating that every year the nation lost huge sums of money in the training of young brains.
He said it was estimated that about 70,000 qualified Africans left their home countries annually for greener pastures and that it was also estimated that Africa spent an estimated US$4 billion annually to recruit about 100,000 skilled expatriates.
“The situation has assumed alarming proportions, to the extent that a majority of the people trained as nurses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, administrators, planners, architects, civil engineers, among others, do not stay in the country to practise but leave soon after graduation to seek what has become known and called 'greener pastures', mainly in the developed world,” he lamented.
Professor Adarkwa said there had been calls on the government to institutionalise the export of such skilled workers to Europe and the US for revenue but said the problem was that the country was not able to train enough of such skilled personnel in terms of numbers to prosecute its developmental agenda, let alone export some of them to other countries.
The vice-chancellor said KNUST had also had its fair share of the brain drain, since some lecturers who went on fully- sponsored study leave abroad failed to return to take up their teaching posts, primarily because they were poached by other countries who were able to pay them as much as 10 times the remuneration they received back home.
He said the situation left the university with loss of investment in training such lecturers and loss of skilled manpower.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the University Council, Nana Otuo Serebour, said there was the need to seriously look at how the country could give incentives to people, especially doctors who moved back to the country to help, since that would serve as an attraction for more to come back home.
He said although such a move might not be able to solve the problem completely, it would be able to mitigate its effects.
Other contributors to the discussions called for the need to look at the issue of frustration which people went through in securing jobs in Ghana.
They said there were times when people returned to Ghana to work but left soon after because of the frustration they went through in securing jobs.
Some students also called for a second look to be taken at how postgraduate programmes were run in universities in the country.
They said most students went through a lot of frustration in getting the opportunity to undertake postgraduate studies in Ghana, hence they were always attracted to look for opportunities outside and when they did that, they felt reluctant to come back home.