Come Back: How Africa Attracts its Young Scientists

In Pretoria, the 7th December 2017, during the Science Forum South Africa, there has been a session called "Come Back: How Africa Attracts Its Young Scientists".

Anton Le Roex, dean of the Faculty of science, University of Cape Town, South Africa:

African students make one in every ten who are traveling overseas to gain an education. I think it's extremely important to spend at least some time elsewhere, out of your own country, learning different approaches to the discipline and new techniques.

Tantely Razafimbelo, director of the Laboratory of Radioisotopes, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar:

Among my generation we were five to go abroad and I was the only one who has come back.

Anton Le Roex:

The good question might be: "Why don’t graduates return to the country?"

Patience Mthunzi-Kufa, Biophotonics group leader, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa:

If you leave, especially without a position to come back to, it can be a challenge to come back and get a position.

Tantely Razafimbelo:

The fear of not finding jobs, after, when you come back, and the salary, because you think that you have make three years more than the others so you think that you have to be paid more.

People in the public shared also their experiences and gave their advices.

There are two moments when someone from the diaspora who has a PhD can return: just when he gets his PhD, then it's easy for the person to return, or twenty years later, when the kids are out of the house.

When I finished my PhD I was 28. I couldn't join my compatriots, the guys were just, you would be seen as a baby.

People need to understand what you have been studying abroad. I got my PhD in 1997, in density functional theory: how many people in Africa understand what I had studied and what was the value of that.

Great opportunities are open to them, that aren't always visible when you're abroad and one way of keeping them visible is by collaborating, to keep the coolaborations going between those who are abroad, because then they see the opportunities and can seize them to come back.

Come to continue the discussion at the YASE meeting, in Toulouse, 6th July 2018.