President Muhammadu Buhari is among wealthy Nigerians who travel abroad for healthcare. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Buhari is among wealthy Nigerians who travel abroad for healthcare. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Africa must stop aiding the developed world by exporting the human capital which is needed to drive the continent’s own social and economic transformation.
Nigeria is a case in point. Its immigrants are the most educated group in the US labor force. Yet Nigeria ranks dismally at 152 out of 157 countries in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI).

Launched in 2018, the index ranks countries’ gains in economic growth and human capital outcomes from investments in health and education. HCI is a composite measure based on survival rates, the quantity and quality of schooling and health status, all of which lead to a productive workforce. It conveys the productivity of the next generation of workers against a benchmark of complete education and full health.

Africa’s performance in HCI is dismal — no country from the continent is ranked in the top 50. Africa’s largest and second-largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, rank 152 and 126, respectively. The economic powerhouse of East Africa, Kenya is at 94, while in North Africa, Egypt stands at 104.

While denouncing immigrants, the Trump administration is currently promoting a brain drain of doctors and nurses from countries with weaker healthcare systems. In reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, the administration began to encourage, in March 2020, medical professionals to move and work in the US.

African immigrants, especially from Nigeria, have already made a significant impact in the US labor market. Nigeria is the largest source of African immigration to the US, numbering about 376,000 from which significant numbers of professionals have emerged.

This article was first published in TheAfricaReport by David Himbara, a Professor of international development based at Centennial College, Toronto, Canada.