Gbenga Ogunjimi (LDI Africa Founder CEO) Introduces LDI Africa’s Fellowship Program
Welcome to LDI Africa! This is our introductory blog post, where we hope to provide you with a wider understanding of our mission which is to “Advance socio-economic development in Africa by deploying the talents of young African Diaspora and youth citizens from outside of the continent to nonprofits and small businesses that are struggling to attract skilled professionals”. Stand up, jump on one foot, and shout out for what you’re about to hear! LDI Africa demands an elimination of brain drain.
What is brain drain? Brain drain is a result of educated Africans leaving their native countries for a higher education. Although these Africans often receive an advanced degree, their intellect may not transcend back to Africa (if they choose not to return). The influx of Africans to the United States has increased exponentially in the last 50 years, according to the Migration Policy Institute, resulting in a void left in Africa. In fact, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, the percentage of African immigrants was at 3.5% in 2005, and rose to 6.6% of the foreign-born population in 2008. This has demonstrated a clear increase in African immigration to the U.S.
Many young, eager, and bright Africans leave their respective countries in order to pursue a more advanced education. For many, the opportunity to study in Western countries provides a more rigorous and well-rounded educational experience. Yet, upon achieving an advanced degree, it is important to remember ones roots. Many students who leave for studies do not return. This is why LDI Africa strives to invite young professionals from the African diaspora back to Africa, encouraging them to utilize their education and acquired skills, while also developing new skills.
One of the most important skills that a fellowship service experience with LDI Africa will provide: a cultivation for volunteerism, and a fire in the belly for continuing to serve Africa in future professional endeavors. Yet, there have been recent efforts to bring more educational opportunities for young scholars in Africa. This New York Times article, Local Options Help Slow Africa’s Brain Drain, provides anecdotes of Africans seeking an advanced degree.
“‘I have two kids. My youngest is still living at home, and so I needed a program where I didn’t have to quit my job or leave my family,’” is the concern of many who have established lives in Africa.
Luckily, new programs such as the executive M.B.A. from Ceibs, a joint venture sponsored by the European Commission, the Chinese ministry of foreign trade, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Accra, Ghana, or Carnegie Mellon University’s new program in Kigali, Rwanda, are providing new options for young professional in Africa. Ceibs Director, Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, expressed his desire to stop the brain drain. “The conditions here mirror China 30 years ago, when if you wanted a top quality business education you had to travel overseas. Many of them didn’t come back,” he said.
It encourages us that others are recognizing the necessity of increased educational opportunities in Africa. This creates excitement for LDI Africa’s vision, and for the whole continent.