Two of Africa’s premier experts on the terrain of the Kalahari Rift Valley are leaving the continent in a rush to study in North America and Europe, sparking serious concerns among Africa’s civil society that leading analysts on the subject will leave Africa altogether.
Kevin Grey, Chief of Remote Sensing for the Institute of South African Tourism, and Gunter Burkrieder, International Programs Manager at Museums of the Kalahari, are leaving the Kalahari Desert on Friday and seeking careers in the United States, Western Europe, and Asia.
Dr. Burkrieder wrote on the Facebook page for the Union of Civilizations that the “glory and glamour” of operating in Africa is driving “some of Africa’s most renowned geo-radar researchers to international fame” but said the changes are also caused by a crisis in leadership and a lack of funding in Africa.
“While we have made significant inroads to increase access to data and information for all, however, much is still going wrong at the bureaucratic and policy levels, particularly in Africa,” he wrote.
The Wall Street Journal’s Religion and Ethics News Network has been covering the issue of the ongoing brain drain in Africa and has been joined by scientist and ethologist Dr. Hans Schaller who is concerned by the departure of Professor Grey.
Schaller wrote, “Prof Grey is an interesting and complex individual. In his capacity as Chief of Remote Sensing at IOTS, he provides key telemetrics expertise for tourist destinations all over Africa and South America, Europe and Asia.”
The World Wide Web Centre in Johannesburg also expressed its concern by publishing a statement: “We’ve recently heard from industry colleagues about a looming brain drain of experts in Remote Sensing and Informatics areas from the Gauteng; Oryx; North West to UK, USA, and Switzerland.
“If the trend continues, it will have a serious impact on the development of tourism and sustainability of enterprises in Southern Africa,” the statement read.
But deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism in Gauteng, Athol Trollip, acknowledged some of the criticism but denied the claims of a brain drain. He said a report commissioned by him showed that although tourism as a whole is growing internationally, in South Africa the number of skilled professionals in the sector has decreased significantly in the last few years.
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