The brain gain


It is no secret that many Africans have little reason for optimism. Civil war tears countries apart while AIDS, malaria, famine, and pestilence rage across the continent. The best and the brightest Africans have little incentive to stay, leading to a continent-wide brain drain. Fred Swaniker, a 31-year-old Ghana native trained at Stanford, decided to do something about it.

Swaniker will open his African Leadership Academy, a high school aimed at giving Africans a professional network that will allow them to flourish on their native continent. After raising millions of dollars from various corporations, Swaniker hired top teachers from around the world and bought a first rate property for the school. 

As the adage says, “Losers focus on problems, winners focus on solutions." Swaniker is a winner. His graduates will stay and invest their money in Africa, which will yield more people jobs. This will in turn improve infrastructure, give more Africans access to education, and create even more jobs.

This story illustrates two important points. First, governments that are corrupt, overtaxing, or that seek to redistribute wealth will encourage the most talented to seek greener pastures. Second, while government foreign aid to Africa can help with basic survival needs, private companies can solve the underlying structural problems that prevent growth and investment.

Swaniker will not solve Africa’s problems by himself, but he shows how much one person can do.