Barack Obama, former U.S President, urged youths in Africa on Wednesday 18th July,2018 to drive change at home rather than emigrating, and tasked their governments to do more to curb a brain drain.
Obama, whose Kenyan-born father studied in the United States but later returned home to work as an economist, described the phenomenon of the best minds leaving for global centers abroad as “a real issue”.
“More and more not only are we seeing concentrations of wealth, we are seeing concentrations of talent in various global centers, whether it is Shanghai or Dubai.”
He told young African business people and activists at a gathering in Johannesburg that opportunities could be greater in their own countries. “Precisely because there may be less of a concentration of talent…, your chances of being transformative are going to be higher.”
His non-profit organization, ‘The Obama Foundation’, runs a leadership program aimed at helping aspiring Africans to solve pressing problems on the continent.
“If we have African leaders, governments and institutions which are creating a platform for success and opportunity, then you will increasingly get more talent wanting to stay. Once you reach a tipping point, not only will you stop the brain drain, it will start reversing.”
On Tuesday 17th of July, 2018, he used a lecture marking 100 years since the birth of South Africa’s first post-apartheid president Nelson Mandela to urge world leaders to resist cynicism over the rise of strongmen – pointed comments which many interpreted as a reference to his successor, Donald Trump, among others. Earlier this week Obama called on Kenya’s leaders to turn their backs on divisive ethnic politics and clamp down on corruption.