This study was intended to examine the perception of skilled Ethiopians on the issue of Ethiopia’s brain drain. My motivation for the issue arose from the class presentation I made on an article, “A Portrait of the Economics of Education” written by Teixeira (2000). From the article, I realized the significance of human capital for the holistic development of a nation, and that invited me to examine the Ethiopian human capital scenario. To carry out the study, I came up with two closely linked objectives: to know the reasons for the decisions of skilled Ethiopians to work in Norway; and to identify the impacts that might affect the country and the migrants themselves negatively or/and positively.
Needless to say, Ethiopia is one of the poverty-stricken countries and second populous country in Africa next to Nigeria. The developed countries’ experiences witness that skilled work force has key roles in the effort to alleviate poverty. However, Ethiopia has confronted serious skilled manpower scarcity in its major public services like education and health sectors. The practical evidence for this is that Ethiopia is bringing university teachers from Nigeria, India, and China. Additionally, Ethiopia is known in its low ratio of doctors per population. To the contrary, various evidences show that there are a number of Ethiopian professors and medical practitioners in the west especially in the U.S. It was in curiosity of this paradox that this study went on gathering opinions from informants.
Given to the nature of my research question, which is to explore opinion of informants on brain drain, qualitative research design was adopted for this study. Identifying the sample population was not easy because skilled Ethiopians are living scattered in different areas of Norway for job purposes. Hence, snowball-sampling technique was found to be appropriate for the study. The study is not free of limitations. Firstly, the informants might have political biases in their opinions for the issue under the study has political nature. Secondly, translation of responses from Amharic into English may fail to present the informants’ opinion in its original sense.
Once having the data gathering mechanism, related literature was briefly assessed. The literature part, presents the global dimensions of brain drain with some statistical evidences. Following that, major worldwide factors of brain drain are highlighted. In the literature, most importantly, the recent debates of experts of the field regarding the pros and cons of exodus of skilled people are presented. Similar pattern was followed in the assessment of the literature about the Ethiopian context. Shortly,the literature served as a measuring rod for the data of this study.
From the data, the study has got related findings mainly the reasons of skilled Ethiopians for not returning home. The reasons are linked to remuneration, job satisfaction, academic and professional freedom and work environment. Additionally, the study found what effects the stays of the skilled Ethiopians have on the home country. In these findings, both negative and positive effects were revealed. Resource loss, experience and skill loss, and increase in technological gap are the top negative effects mentioned by the informants. On the other hand, remittance flow to Ethiopia and the potential significance of exodus of skilled Ethiopians in terms of tapping the Diaspora and reversing the brain drain are mentioned as the positive sides.
The findings of this study in general agree with the previous brain drain studies. Regarding the negative and positive impacts of the exodus of skilled Ethiopians on the country, the informants argued for and against it.
Based on the findings, this study concludes that Ethiopia primarily need to take measures in controlling its push factors and counteracting against the pull factors as much as possible. For the accomplishment of such measures, this study recommends to the government and concerned bodies of Ethiopia, to provide incentives for the purpose of retaining those who are still working in Ethiopia and attracting the migrated ones; to create friendly work environment; to increase research opportunities; to allow academic and professional freedom; and to make a nationwide study about the issue of brain drain in Ethiopia.