Can West Africa Curb Its Brain Drain?

West Africa is losing many of its best and brightest. Across the region, doctors, lawyers, and engineers are leaving, depriving some of the world’s youngest countries of the minds they need to develop sustainably. At the same time, coups have rocked the nearby Sahel, threatening to create a corrosive cycle of instability. Can West Africa quell the tide of emigration?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Ebenezer Obadare
    Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow for Africa Studies
  • Aanu Adeoye
    West Africa correspondent, Financial Times

Show Notes

Africa is by far the world’s youngest continent, by age of population. But its young people are increasingly leaving their home countries in search of greater economic opportunity and less instability.


This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in West Africa’s health-care sector: In Nigeria, there is just one doctor for every five thousand people, one twentieth the average level in most wealthy countries. In Cameroon, one-third of medical school graduates left the country last year. Experts say reversing this “brain drain” trend will require sweeping improvements in governance across the region. But if West African governments make those changes, experts say, the region could soon become a hub of prosperity.



From CFR


Mohamed Bella Jalloh, Amrit Virk, Ini Dele-Adedeji, Bassey Ebenso, “How to Stop West Africa’s Brain Drain,” Think Global Health


Comfort Ero and Murithi Mutiga, “The Crisis of African Democracy,” Foreign Affairs




From Our Guests


Aanu Adeoye, “Can Nigeria’s Brain-Drain Be Reversed?,” Financial Times


Ebenezer Obadare, “Is Western Policy on Migration Holding Africa Back?,”


Read More


African Youth Survey 2022,” Ichikowitz Family Foundation 


Alfred Olufemi, “There Won’t Be Enough People Left’: Africa Struggles to Stop Brain Drain of Doctors and Nurses,” The Guardian


Africa’s Coups Are Part of a Far Bigger Crisis,” The Economist


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