Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

How do we reverse
the brain drain?

by Philip Emeagwali

Permission to reproduce is granted.


I read with tears in my eyes the brain drain article, Oh good lord!

I was in the car and my heart shed tears for the revelations before me.
Tope Ayedun, Lagos, Nigeria

I have never came across a such speech concentrated on solving the problem of Africa.
Aster Sagai (born in Eritrea), London, England

Your article is the most inspirational document I have ever come across my whole life.
Born in Ghana, living in Minnesota

I am of the view that the issues raised in this speech should form the basis of discussion and brainstorming at the next Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja,
Segun Kukoyi, Lagos, Nigeria

I was marvelled not about the content on its own but the way and manner the note was delivered.
Adisa,Saheed Adedeji.

Sir, I must say that your speech on that faithful day have enable me rediscover myself, and also reminds me that Africa has great potentials that can make Africa rise to its glory....
Sunday Isoni

Truly a powerful speech that brings to reality the truth and the actual effect of brain drain ....
Wallace Ngugi, Nairobi, Kenya

We need more people like you to look up to and speak and advice on the way forward.
Chibuzo Amaefule.

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Keynote speech by Philip Emeagwali at the Pan African Conference on Brain Drain, Elsah, Illinois on October 24, 2003.

Bengali and German translations provided by High I.Q. for Humanity. French translation by Abdoulaye CAMARA of AfricaMaat.

Thank you for the pleasant introduction as well as for inviting me to share my thoughts on turning "brain drain" into "brain gain."

For 10 million African-born emigrants, the word "home" is synonymous with the United States, Britain or other country outside of Africa.

Personally, I have lived continuously in the United States for the past 30 years. My last visit to Africa was 17 years ago.

On the day I left Nigeria, I felt sad because I was leaving my family behind. I believed I would return eight years later, probably marry an Igbo girl, and then spend the rest of my life in Nigeria.

But 25 years ago, I fell in love with an American girl, married her three years later, and became eligible to sponsor a Green Card visa for my 35 closest relatives, including my parents and all my siblings, nieces and nephews.

The story of how I brought 35 people to the United States exemplifies how 10 million skilled people have emigrated out of Africa during the past 30 years.

We came to the United States on student visas and then changed our status to become permanent residents and then naturalized citizens. Our new citizenship status helped us sponsor relatives, and also inspired our friends to immigrate here.

Ten million Africans now constitute an invisible nation that resides outside Africa. Although invisible, it is a nation as populous as Angola, Malawi, Zambia or Zimbabwe. If it were to be a nation with distinct borders, it would have an income roughly equivalent to Africa's gross domestic product.

Although the African Union does not recognize the African Diaspora as a nation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) acknowledges its economic importance. The IMF estimates the African Diaspora now constitutes the biggest group of foreign investors in Africa.

Take for example Western Union. It estimates that it is not atypical for an immigrant to wire $300 per month to relatives in Africa. If you assume that most Africans living outside Africa send money each month and you do the math, you will agree with the IMF that the African Diaspora is indeed the largest foreign investor in Africa.

What few realize is that Africans who immigrate to the United States contribute 40 times more wealth to the American than to the African economy. According to the United Nations, an African professional working in the United States contributes about $150,000 per year to the U.S. economy.

Again, if you do the math, you will realize that the African professional remitting $300 per month to Africa is contributing 40 times more to the United States economy than to the African one.

On a relative scale, that means for every $300 per month a professional African sends home, that person contributes $12,000 per month to the U.S. economy.


Emeagwali at the Pan African Conference
Delivering the keynote speech
[Principia College (, Elsah, Illinois, October 24, 2003]

Of course, the issue more important than facts and figures is eliminating poverty in Africa, not merely reducing it by sending money to relatives. Money alone cannot eliminate poverty in Africa, because even one million dollars is a number with no intrinsic value.

Real wealth cannot be measured by money, yet we often confuse money with wealth. Under the status quo, Africa would still remain poor even if we were to send all the money in the world there.

Ask someone who is ill what "wealth" means, and you will get a very different answer than from most other people.

If you were HIV-positive, you would gladly exchange one million dollars to become HIV-negative.

When you give your money to your doctor, that physician helps you convert your money into health - or rather, wealth.

Money cannot teach your children. Teachers can. Money cannot bring electricity to your home. Engineers can. Money cannot cure sick people. Doctors can.

Because it is only a nation's human capital that can be converted into real wealth, that human capital is much more valuable than its financial capital.

A few years ago, Zambia had 1,600 medical doctors. Today, Zambia has only 400 medical doctors. Kenya retains only 10% of the nurses and doctors trained there. A similar story is told from South Africa to Ghana.

I also speak from my family experiences. After contributing 25 years to Nigerian society as a nurse, my father retired on a $25-per-month pension.

By comparison, my four sisters each earn $25 per hour as nurses in the United States. If my father had had the opportunity my sisters did, he certainly would have immigrated to the United States as a young nurse.

The "brain drain" explains, in part, why affluent Africans fly to London for their medical treatments.

Furthermore, because a significant percentage of African doctors and nurses practice in U.S. hospitals, we can reasonably conclude that African medical schools are de facto serving the American people, not Africa.

A recent World Bank survey shows that African universities are exporting a large percentage of their graduating manpower to the United States. In a given year, the World Bank estimates that 70,000 skilled Africans immigrate to Europe and the United States.

While these 70,000 skilled Africans are fleeing the continent in search of employment and decent wages, 100,000 skilled expatriates who are paid wages higher than the prevailing rate in Europe are hired to replace them.

In Nigeria, the petroleum industry hires about 1,000 skilled expatriates, even though we can find similar skills within the African Diaspora. Instead of developing its own manpower resources, Nigeria prefers to contract out its oil exploration despite the staggeringly high price of having to concede 40% of its profits to foreign oil companies.

In a pre-independence day editorial, the Vanguard (Nigeria) queried: "Why would the optimism of 1960 give way to the despair of 2000?"

My answer is this: Nigeria achieved political independence in 1960, but by the year 2000 had not yet achieved technological independence.

During colonial rule, Nigeria retained only 50% of the profits from oil derived from its own territory. Four decades after this colonial rule ended, the New York Times (December 22, 2002) wrote that "40 percent of the oil revenue goes to Chevron, [and] 60 percent to the [Nigerian] government."

As a point of comparison, the United States would never permit a Nigerian oil company to retain 40% of the profits from a Texas oilfield.

Our African homelands have paid an extraordinary price for their lack of domestic technological knowledge.

Because of that lack of knowledge, since it gained independence in 1960, Nigeria has relinquished 40% of its oilfields and $200 billion to American and European stockholders.

Because of that lack of knowledge, Nigeria exports crude petroleum, only to import refined petroleum.

Because of that lack of knowledge, Africa exports raw steel, only to import cars that are essentially steel products.

Knowledge is the engine that drives economic growth, and Africa cannot eliminate poverty without first increasing and nurturing its intellectual capital.

Reversing the "brain drain" will increase Africa's intellectual capital while also increasing its wealth in many, many different ways.

Can the "brain drain" be reversed? My answer is: yes. But in order for it to happen, we must try something different.

At this point, I want to inject a new idea into this dialogue. For my idea to work, it requires that we tap the talents and skills of the African Diaspora. It requires that we create one million high-tech jobs in Africa. It requires that we move one million high-tech jobs from the United States to Africa.

I know you are wondering: How can we move one million jobs from the United States to Africa?

It can be done. In fact, by the year 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor expects to lose an estimated 3.3 million call center jobs to developing nations.

In this area, what we as Africans need to do is develop a strategic plan - one that will persuade multinational companies that it will be more profitable to move their call centers to nations in Africa instead of India.

These high-tech jobs include those in call centers, customer service and help desks - all of which are suitable for unemployed university graduates.

The reason these jobs could now emerge in Africa is that recent technological advances such as the Internet and mobile telephones now make it practical, cheaper and otherwise advantageous to move these services to developing nations, where lower wages prevail.

If Africa succeeds in capturing one million of these high-tech jobs, they could provide more revenues than all the African oilfields. These "greener pastures" would lure back talent and, in turn, create a reverse "brain drain."

Again, we have a rare and unique window of opportunity to convert projected American job losses into Africa's job gain, and thus change the "brain drain" to "brain gain."

However, aggressive action must be taken before this window of opportunity closes. India is a formidable competitor.

Therefore, we need to determine the cost savings realized by outsourcing call center jobs to Africa instead of India. That cost saving will be used as a selling point to corporations interested in outsourcing jobs.

A typical call center employee might be a housewife using a laptop computer and a cell phone to work from her home. As night settles and her children go to bed, she could place a phone call to Los Angeles, which is 10 hours behind her time zone.

An American answers her call and she says, "Good morning, this is Zakiya." Using a standard, rehearsed script, she tries to sell an American product.

Now that USA-to-Africa telephone calls are as low as 6 cents per minute, it is economically feasible for a telephone sales person to reside in Anglophone Africa while virtually employed in the United States, and - this is important - paying income taxes only to her country in Africa.

I will give one more example of how thousands of call center jobs can be created in Africa.

It is well known that U.S. companies often give up on collecting outstanding account balances of less than $50 each. The reason is that it often costs $60 in American labor to recover that $50.

By comparison, I believe it would cost only $10 in African labor (including the 6 cents per minute phone call) to collect an outstanding balance of $50.

Earlier, the organizers of this Pan African Conference gave me a note containing eleven questions.

The first was: Do skilled Africans have the moral obligation to remain and work in Africa?

I believe those with skills should be encouraged and rewarded to stay, work, and raise their families in Africa. When that happens, a large middle class will be created, thereby reducing the conditions that give rise to civil war and corruption. Then, a true revitalization and renaissance will occur.

The second question was: Should skilled African emigrants be compelled to return to Africa?

I believe controlling emigration will be very difficult. Instead, I recommend the United Nations impose a "brain gain tax" upon those nations benefiting from the "brain drain."

Each year, the United States creates a brain drain by issuing 135,000 H1-B visas to "outstanding researchers" and persons with "extraordinary ability."

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), working in tangent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), could be required to credit one month's salary, each year, to the country of birth of each immigrant.

Already, the IRS allows U.S. taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to election funds. Similarly, it could allow immigrants to voluntarily pay taxes to their country of birth, instead of to the United States.

The third question was: Why don't we encourage unemployed Africans to seek employment abroad?

Put differently, if all the nurses and doctors in Africa were to win the U.S. visa lottery, who will operate our hospitals?

If we encourage 8 million talented Africans to emigrate, what will we encourage their remaining 800 million brothers and sisters to do?

The fourth question was: Should we blame the African Diaspora for Africa's problems?

Yes, the Diaspora should be blamed in part, because the absence it's created has diminished the continent's intellectual capital and thus created the vacuum enabling dictators and corruption to flourish.

The likes of Idi Amin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and Mobutu Sese Seko would not be able to declare themselves president-for-life of nations who have a large, educated middle class.

The fifth question was: Should we not blame Africa's leaders for siphoning money from Africa's treasuries?

It becomes a vicious circle: the flight of intellectual capital increases the flight of financial capital which in turn increases again the flight of intellectual capital.

Leadership is a collective process, and "brain drain" reduces the collective brainpower needed to fight corruption and mismanagement.

For example, the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria did not call a news conference after Sani Abacha stole $3 billion dollars from it.

The bank's Governor-General did not go on a hunger strike. He did not report the robbery to the police. He did not file a lawsuit.

Had they the intellectual manpower to counter corruption, the results would have been very different.

The sixth question was: Is it possible to achieve an African renaissance?

Because by definition, a renaissance is the revival and flowering of the arts, literature and sciences, it must be preceded by a growth in the continent's intellectual capital, or the collective knowledge of the people.

The best African musicians live in France. The top African writers live in the United States or Britain. The soccer superstars live in Europe. It will be impossible to achieve a renaissance without the contributions of the talented.

The seventh question was: For how long has the "brain drain" problem existed?

A common misconception is that the African "brain drain" started 40 years ago.

In reality, it actually began ten times that long. Four hundred years ago, most people of African descent lived in Africa. Today, one in five of African descent live in the Americas. Therefore, measured in numbers, the largest "brain drain" resulted from the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Contrary to what people believed, Africa experienced a brain gain during the first half of the 20th century. Schools, hospitals and banks were built by the British colonialists. These institutions were the visible manifestations of brain gain.

At the end of colonial rule, skilled Europeans fled the continent. Skilled Africans started fleeing the continent in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. The result was the widespread rise of despotic rulers.

The eighth question was: Is "brain drain" a form of modern slavery?

By the end of the 21st century, people will have different sensibilities and will describe it as modern day slavery.

In the 19th century, which was an Agricultural Age, the U.S. economy needed strong hands to pick cotton, and the young and sturdy were forced into slavery.

In the 21st century, which is an Information Age, the U.S. economy needs persons with "extraordinary ability" and the best and brightest are lured with Green Card visas. Africans who are illiterate or HIV-positive are automatically denied American visas.

The ninth question was: Do you believe that the "brain drain" can be reversed?

As I stated earlier, "brain drain" is a complex and multidimensional problem that can be reversed into "brain gain."

India is now reversing its "brain drain," and turning it into "brain gain;" I believe Africa can do the same. But unless we reverse it, the dream of an African renaissance will remain an elusive one.

The tenth question was: Can we blame globalization as a cause of brain drain?

Globalization began 400 years ago with the trans-Atlantic slave trade that brought the ancestors of 200 million Africans now living in the Americas. It has accelerated because the Internet and cell phone now enable you to communicate instantaneously with any person on the globe.

Overall, globalization is a force that is denationalizing the wealth of developing nations. Economists have confirmed that the rich nations are getting richer while the poor ones are getting poorer.

We also know that the globalization process is increasing the foreign debts of developing nations, accelerating the flight of financial and intellectual capital to western nations.

The economics of offshoring will force multinational corporations to outsource to developing nations where lower wages prevail.

To remain competitive and profitable, companies will be forced to reduce costs by hiring five-dollars-an-hour computer programmers living in Third World countries and lay off expensive American programmers that demand $50 an hour.

In the long term, offshoring will reverse the flight of financial and intellectual capital from western nations to the Third World.

The eleventh question was: Why have I lived in the United States for 30 continuous years?

Africa has bitten at my soul since I left. My roots are still in Africa. My house is filled with Africana - food, paintings, music, and clothes - to remind me of Africa.

I long to visit the motherland, but I must confess that when Africa called me to return home, I couldn't answer that call.

The reason is that I work on creating new knowledge that could be used to redesign supercomputers. The most powerful supercomputers cost $120 million each and Nigeria could not afford to buy one for me. I created the knowledge that the power of thousands of processors can be harnessed; this knowledge, in turn, inspired the reinvention of vector supercomputers into massively parallel supercomputers.

New knowledge must precede new technological products and the supercomputer of today will become the personal computer of tomorrow.

And so to answer your question: even though I reside in the U.S. the knowledge that I created is now materializing into better personal computers purchased by Africans.

Finally, millions of high-tech jobs can be performed from Africa, but may instead be lost to India. We must identify the millions of jobs that will be more profitable when transferred from the United States to Africa.

Doing so will enable us to create a brain drain from the United States and convert it to a brain gain for Africa.

Thank you again.


Emeagwali delivering the keynote speech at the Pan African Conference
Emeagwali won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, which has been called "supercomputing's Nobel Prize," for inventing a formula that allows computers to perform their fastest computations - a discovery that inspired the reinvention of supercomputers. He was extolled by then U.S. President Bill Clinton as "one of the great minds of the Information Age" and described by CNN as "a Father of the Internet;" he is the most searched-for scientist on the Internet.


Lisa S. Chiteji, Emeagwali and Sombo Nkwhazi
An informal Q&A session followed Emeagwali's speech on reversing brain drain. [Principia College, Elsah, Illinois. October 24, 2003]

On September 3, 2003, Sombo Nkwhazi wrote:

Dear Mr. Emeagwali,

I am one of the board member for the Pan-African conference at Principia College. I have read so much about you and what you have personally written concerning the African continent and the brain drain in particular. Of particular importance to me is your dedication to the cause of the African continent of which I form part myself. Of the people so far suggested to speak on our forth coming conference on the brain drain, none has spoken as widely and knowledgably as you. It is for this reason that me and the whole board have agreed to work hard to have you as our keynote speaker. I know you are busy, but I am pleading with you to come and help as we look for a good speaker for our conference.

I hope my letter will be put into consideration.

Thank you.
Sombo Nkwhazi

bente morse philip emeagwali principia guest house principia college elsah illinois 26 october 2003

Bente Morse Chats with Emeagwali
Bente Morse, an emigrant from Denmark, was Emeagwali's guide during his four-day visit to Principia College and the historic village of Elsah. [Principia Guest House, Elsah, Illinois. October 26, 2003]

principia guest house principia college elsah illinois

Principia Guest House
Emeagwali stayed at this Guest House while visiting the College campus.
[Principia Guest House, Elsah, Illinois. October 26, 2003]


Emeagwali Prepares to Emigrate
This photo was taken in Nov-Dec 1972, when Emeagwali came to Enugu (Nigeria) to take his Scholastic Aptitute Test (SAT), Achievement Test and Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examinations. A few days later, he returned to Onitsha to take his University of London General Certificate of Education examinations as an external candidate. A few months later, he won a scholarship and emigrated to the United States.
(Emeagwali, photo taken at studio at 1 & 3 Ajalli Street, Uwani, Enugu, Nigeria. 1972.)


Emeagwali's Scholarship Letter
This scholarship enabled Emeagwali to obtain a U.S. visa and emigrate from Nigeria.


Emeagwali arrives in the United States
Emeagwali on his fourth day in the United States.
[Oregon College of Education (renamed, March 28, 1974]


My heart shed tears for the revelations

I read Phillip's speech at the Pan African Conference in the Guardian newspapers today. I've had so much about the man and his brilliance but it was something else to read his rather calculated prophetic insights into ending the brain drain syndrome. Honestly, I felt as if I was reading a "bible" of sort on a future that's almost here for Africa. I was in the car and my heart shed tears for the revelations before me.

Kindly give me this man's e-mail. He is definitely a rare breed - one in a generation. I need to send him a personal mail on certain issues.

Tope Ayedun
Lagos, Nigeria

WEBMISTRESS' NOTE: Visitors from the continent can read Emeagwali's speech as reproduced in Guardian (Nigeria, Nov. 4, 2003), New Age (Nigeria, Oct. 28 & 30, 2003), Champion (Nigeria, Oct. 29, 2003), The Accra Daily Mail (Ghana, Oct. 28, 2003), Moneyweb (Johannesburg, Oct. 27, 2003)


Chief admiration from an Eritrean guy.

Wow, I really loved your article on an African Diaspora simple Economics. In fact, you are kind of changing my mind to consider and be part of this high-tech African "brain-gain" business and create a wealth. I do not have a clue how to do it now, but I will try.

Proud of you
African American.
George Tesfa, President.
American Mortgage -- (713) 785-LEND


Mr. Emeagwali,

I come across your site while conducting research for a graduate-level course in International Management. I found your comments about brain drain in African nations quite intriguing. Most notably, while I was aware of the problem, it never occurred to me to connect brain drain with the overwhelming problem of corruption in African nations. My comments regarding your research have prompted quite a debate, and I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your site and will continue to rely on it for valuable information (properly cited, of course) in my studies.

Nick Holmes
Graduate Student
Wayland Baptist University
Lubbock, Texas

Dear Dr. Emeagwali,

I wish to commend you on your giant strides in the world of technology in general, and computer in particular. Today, many Nigerians, Africans and non-Africans all aspire to attain your height.

I am an ardent lover of your technological innovations and your personality in particular. Recently, I joined the “Friends of Emeagwali”.

I am a young budding writer and have written some essays and written radio commentaries, although my efforts are being militated against by Nigerians’ (both individuals and Government) indifference to academics in particular, and the youths in general.

In one of my radio commentaries, I wrote a few lines about you. The commentary is entitled: “Brain Drain in Africa: the Nigerian Story.”(I will send you that soon). I was of the opinion that if the Nigerian educational sector had all that it takes to harness our potentialities, some personalities like you would have been in Nigeria contributing to Nation-Building, and Nigeria would have been better placed in the world of technology.

I want to write more about you. Due to the under developed economy we have in Nigeria, access to the Internet is restricted to the rich, who have both monopolized and commercialized it, and made it very costly. So, I go to the Internet only once a while I get a “dash” from my cousin who comes home occasionally. To this end, please, send me your comprehensive autobiography or your biography to enable me write a voluminous newspaper publication. My postal address is: P.O. Box 439, Awka 420001, Anambra State. I also need your personal e-mail address for any correspondence. I hope to hear from you.

Once more, I congratulate you on your achievements.

C’Neke Anagbogu


Apart from neo-colonialism, under-development and economic servility, the most important and dominant factor impedimental to the socio-economic, political and technological emancipation of Nigeria nay Africa is brain drain. Brain drain can be defined as massive emigration of highly skilled people from the country where they were trained to other countries. Usually, those who leave the shores of Nigeria go in search of better working conditions or Golden Fleece, or to explore and exploit their potentialities, which the individuals believe, cannot be fully tapped in Nigeria, or to move away from the 'hostile' environment to a more 'hospitable' one. This hydra headed monster largely accounts for the over 17million Nigerians working abroad. In the United States alone, there are about 33,000 Nigerians working as medical doctors in Texas State, whereas Nigerian hospitals are understaffed with only 30,000 doctors! In New York City alone, there are about 1,500 Nigerian legal practitioners. Needless talk about other Nigerians in Canada and Europe. This cankerworm, which has eaten deep into the very fabric of this nation, needs a radical, pragmatic and urgent approach to be taken to ensure its total extermination. A number of reasons can be advanced for this ugly trend.

In the first place, getting a job in Nigeria is a great hurdle as tribalism, nepotism and favouritism have taken the center stage of our national lives. When jobs are got at all, the remunerations and working conditions leave much to be desired, thus resulting that many Nigerians travel abroad in search of Golden Fleece. This practice has become conspicuously advantageous as families of those who travel abroad have their fortunes turned around. Currently available evidence shows that those who travel abroad are mostly the corner stones of their families and communities.

Again, facilities available in Nigerian schools are grossly inadequate to properly harness the innate potentialities of the students. Most graduates of computer science for example, have never worked a computer in their undergraduate lives. This lack of exposure has resulted that many who are innately bestowed with tarlents after graduation travel abroad to where such facilities and exposures exist to ground themselves. This for example, made Dr. Philip Emeagwali, the “African Bill Gates”, as former US President, Bill Clinton had called him to travel abroad. The man, Dr. Emeagwali’s over 30 technological innovations would have better placed Nigeria in world of technology if his potentialities were put to use in Nigeria. Hundreds of thousands of such Nigerians exist in Europe and America.

To stem this, therefore, from our national lives, the Nigerian government is called upon to see that brilliant proffessionals are well employed by probably casting mediocrity and nepotism to the abyss of sea, which, results that inefficient people are given sensitive jobs to do in work places. More importantly, stakeholders in the educational sector should improve on their facilities. This can be realized if the various ministries of education inspect sc\hool facilities before they are used. In addition, adequate provision should be made in the area of exposure so that pupils would be able to identify his God-given tarlents. Let’s go in search of the black goat before it is dusk, for “a stitch in time saves nine.”

Chukwuneke Anagbogu,
Social Prefect,
Igwebuike grammar School,

A radio commentary read by the Anambra Broadcasting Service, Awka on 26th of August 2002.


September 30, 2003

Dear Dr. Donita Brown:

I am writing this in response to Dr. Phillip Emeagwali's speech at the "Association of Nigerians in Montgomery, Alabama ceremony of October 10th, 1999.

Although, it took me almost 4 years late to see this article, in the article he told the gathering his observation, and possible remedy to correct this problems, but uptil now, instead of thing getting better in Nigeria, it is getting worse. Dr. Emeagwali will have some influence to try and implement his ideas in Nigeria, although, it is very difficult to try and convience corrupt minds, which is the main problem in Nigeria, but I still believe that Nigeria could be salvaged.

According to his statistics about the intellectuals of Africa, who are now benefitting from the struggles that some blacks American struggle for this country, and can not try and emmulate the struggle in Africa. Dr. Emaagwali pointed out that long before the 80's that almost 100% of African's who study in this great country went back home, but when most of them get back home, instead of them practicing the good things they saw here, they became the oppressors forcing the young ones to run away from the country that they love so much.

It will be a God sent blessing to Africa, if people like Dr. Emeagwali and influential African's like him could use there influence to brings back African wealth to Africa.

Thank you

Best Regards
Stephen Adegun
Balta Communications
31 Bale Street
Orile Iganmu, Lagos


Dear Mr Emeagwali,

First of all I would like to thank you for such an inspirational, informative and very refreshing speech you gave at the Pan African Conference on Brain Drain, which i read on, one of the eritrean web sites.

Your Brain Gain theory is exceptional and I wish most, if not all African leaders actually read it thoroughly and applied to their economic policies. For some reason I have never came across a such speech concentrated on solving the problem of Africa rather than highlighting all the massive mistakes which led to Africa being such a poor neglected continent. I think it is time we catch up with the world, and this high tech business of the relocation of call centres is a great opportunity. I recon it would be foolish of the African leaders to not even consider the idea. I am totally confident, regardless how hard it might be to convince the world, our leaders and our people, that this can work, we can compete with India. Incidentally, I was watching a documentary on BBC1 the other day about the relocation of many call centres in India, it was very interesting how this made such a big impact to the young people living in India and I am sure to the whole economy of the country, even though the topic was the fact the jobs were being lost in Europe.

As I am from Eritrea but leaved in Europe for over 20 years, for instance I can see this system perfectly work in Eritrea. As you say a person's and a country wealth is people and Eritrea is striving with young intelligent smart and energetic youth, who are being wasted at the moment.

Finally I just wanted to thank you once again for your inspiration and your refreshing approach to a possible solution to this long term problem that Africa is becoming. Let's hope that this will lead to people actually applying this great idea.

Kind regards,
Aster Sagai
London, England


Hello Dr.Phillip,

I am a Ghanaian student studying at the University of Minnesota.I came a cross your article on brain drain in Africa and followed up to your website.

I never heard of you before I read your article, your article is the most inspirational document I have ever come across my whole life.As an African who is proud of everything African your articles are priceless!

I love Africa to death,I have noticed over the three years in this country that my motivational level and pride in Africa had dropped drastically.I feel I am in bell jar and that I can't think outside the jar.

But your website has really inspired me alot and I finally feel freedom. I am studying Management Information Systems and my drive has been how to help Africa.The problems are daunting but not impossible to solve.

Is quite dispecable how people of African descent are portrayed.Who ever started that school-of-thought to degrade everything African has really gone far.But I know the will and determination that our mothercontinent has endured over many civilizations will eventually place her in a permanent graceful position on the world stage.

You are my role model and I will appreciate advise on how to stay focused on studying in the U.S and how I can be a better person to Africa.

Born in Ghana, living in Minnesota


Dear Mr. Emeagwali,

I read your article about reversing brain drain on the Internet,, to be precise. It was later e-mailed to me by a friend who thought it would interest me. Surely, it did. I have been tossing the idea of brain drain and its devastating effect on Africa and the third worl at large. I feel it must be dealt with now otherwise, we must kiss the development of countries like Ghnan and Nigeria good bye, and our development may forever remain mediocre at best.

I do not have much time to spare at the moment. I just want to congratulate you on your achievements and the fact that the development of mother Africa is your prime concern. It is mine too - a serious one. This has led me to establish an NGO to deal with the the problem and find a lasting solution to the "cancer" eating Africa like wildfire. Right now, if you land airplanes and offer to fly out everybody from Africa, I think there will not be anyone left. The question is why?

I would like to invite you to join my organization and together fight to make Africa better. Right now, both the Government of Ghana and the World Bank have expressed interest in its operations. I am sending under a separate e-mail cover, a press release that appeared on my organization, Motivational Centers International, Inc. on Ghanaweb.

Please let me hear from you.

Dr. Gabriel Ayisi.


Dear Dede Philip,

I read with joy the key note speech you delivered at the Pan African Conference on Brain Drain, held at Elsah, Illinois on October 24, 2003.

The conference alone is a sign of good things that are about to happen in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.

In your speech, your answered the eleven questions very well and I share you views. As my own humble contribution to the vision, please permit me to make the following suggestions for your consideration.

1.The conference organizers should raise a team of like minds in Africa (Nigeria) and US to work on the vision of reversing the brain drain.

2.As the father of internet and one of the great minds of the information age, you could use your position to identify the millions of jobs that will be profitable when transferred from US to Africa.

3.To identify the companies and use your good offices and influence and contacts to make such companies agree to divert such jobs to Africa.

4.Map out strategies to put in place necessary frame work to make the vision come through.

5.We can begin to sensitize our people and visit the schools to prepare us for the take off the vision.

Dear Philip, in case your are looking for someone that can co-ordinate such programme from Nigeria,

I offer to serve at no cost. My services will be my own contributions and sacrifice to reverse the brain drain to brain gain.

Please accept my congatulations on your numerous achievements and may the Good Lord bring to pass your desire to see your father land benefit from your achievements.

Thank you and God bless.



Emeagwali Laments Brain Drain in Africa

Daily Champion (Lagos)
October 29, 2003
Posted to the web October 29, 2003

By Remmy Nweke

Nigerian Information Technology (IT) guru based in the United States of America (USA) Philip Emeagwali, has lamented the level of "brain drain" in Africa and harped on human capital development in the continent.

Emeagwali, in a keynote address to the Pan African Conference, held in Elsah, Illinois, at the weekend, said the continent should focus on human capital, because "it is only a nation's human capital that can be converted into real wealth, that human capital is much more valuable than its financial capital".

He gave a narration of exodus of professionals from the continent, such as medical doctors, nurses among other professionals.

"A few years ago, Zambia had 1,600 medical doctors. Today, Zambia has only 400 medical doctors. Kenya retains only 10% of the nurses and doctors trained there. A similar story is told from South Africa to Ghana" he lamented, adding that personal experience has shown that a nurse in USA earns about $25.

" If my father had had the opportunity he certainly would have immigrated to the United States as a young nurse," he said.

The "brain drain" he said explains, in part, why affluent Africans fly to London for their medical treatments.

Stressing that significant percentage of African doctors and nurses practice in U.S. hospitals, hence one could reasonably conclude that African medical schools are de facto serving the American people, not Africa.

According to him, a recent World Bank survey showed that African universities are exporting a large percentage of their graduating manpower to the United States.

He decried that in a given year, the World Bank estimates that 70,000 skilled Africans immigrate to Europe and the United States.

While these 70,000 skilled Africans are fleeing the continent in search of employment and decent wages, 100,000 skilled expatriates who are paid wages higher than the prevailing rate in Europe are hired to replace them.

He also lamented that in Nigeria, the petroleum industry hires about 1,000 skilled expatriates, and instead of developing skills within the African Diaspora, the operators prefer in the country to contract out its oil exploration "despite the staggeringly high price of having to concede 40 per cent of its profits to foreign oil companies".



I consider as timely the publication in the Tuesday 4th November 2003 (page21) in the Guardian Newspaper, The Key Note speech by Mr. Phillip Emeagwali at the Pan-African Conference on Brain Drain, Elsah Illinois on October 24th 2003.

This is due to the importance of this (Tuesday Guardian Newspaper) issue to the communication and information technology investors, the under employed and the ever increasing army of unemployed Nigerians.

I am of the view that the issues raised in this speech should form the basis of discussion and brainstorming at the next Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, the next deliberations of the National Assembly, the corporate business community, the Nigerian Labour Congress, political parties and individuals seeking public offices in 2007 and every reasonable and concerned Nigerians.

The views and facts presented by this highly revered Nigerian-born information technologist on the issues are highly appreciated, understood and welcomed. I believe that many of the Nigerians must have discovered and will agree with me that Emeagwali’s acclaimed direct foreign investments in Nigeria attributed to them given his illustrations has had a little or no impact on the economy due to its lack of intrinsic values. I cannot but agree with him that a nation’s human capital is of more value than its financial capital if it aims to achieve economic growth and development as could be seen in countries like India, Indonesia, Singapore, Israel e.t.c lately.

Therefore, I want to challenge Phillip Emeagwali to ensure he had not6 only pay lip service to this subject of discourse but to dedicate his time and resources to championing a crusade that will ensure the reverse of the current trend and also give a direction to the poverty alleviation policies and programmes of the present administration. A case in sight is the achievements of the 1 million jobs he said could be created through front desk activities. Efforts should be geared at mobilizing and orientating Nigerians in diaspora on the dangers the current trend portends and the need to save the lives of their kinsmen and relations back home. They should mobilize themselves along individual, group, organization, institution, professional and interest lines.

For example, Mr. Phillip Emeagwali can help mobilize Nigerians abroad who are experts in the Information Technology business and help coordinate them into a foundation that will enhance information Technology knowledge, skills, capacity acquisition development and utilization in Nigeria. This could be achieved through frequent visits to Nigeria to organize and participate in seminars, conferences, workshops etc to educate and practically demonstrate necessary skills to secondary and tertiary education students as well as the private and public sector of the economy.

Our dear Chief Harry Akande could lead a team of Nigerians abroad in the business world to Nigeria to compliment the efforts of the likes of Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga in promoting investments in the agricultural sector in areas of crop cultivation, processing and storage. This will increase the quantities of raw materials available to the agro-allied sector and again supports and participate in the privatization efforts in the oil, energy and communication sector through their direct foreign investments. This will go a long way in reducing the exploitative tendencies and influences of firms like Chevron, Julius Berger etc as expressed by Phillip Emeagwali of great relevance.

Recently, I have applauded the decision of some of our medical experts to visit the nation and give medical assistance to Nigerians on humanitarian grounds. I appeal that such visits should be made more frequently and in different specialists fields. They should make the rural communities a place of greater priority. Equipments and machines should be donated to health institutions and funds made available to researchers in the medical field.

Academic, sports, entertainments and tourism experts should endeavour to come and help develop the vast human capital (talents) in Nigeria. It is time to join the crusade for a better Nigeria. The pessimists among them should remember that no difficulty is impregnable, even imaginary and people-inflicted ones can be overcomed by right thinking.

Phillip Emeagwali and his colleagues that are adjudged to be successful Nigerian adventurers abroad must note that “to be successful is to be helpful, caring and constructive, to make everything and everyone you touch a bit better the best thing you have to give is yourself.” Nigeria surely has a place for those that respond to or ignore its distress call.

On the part of the federal government, it is important they organize conference on different fields of endeavour that will enhance brainstorming on this subject among Nigerians within and abroad in relevant fields. This will increase the quality of the idea generation process which will enhance the policy and programme formulation and implementation in both the private and public sector of the economy. Dr. Kpakoh’s NAPEP, I suggest should take a cue from this development.

The National Assembly should exert more energy to the passage of bills that will help put in place durable structures that will sustain economic growth and development. They should realize that Nigerians are no longer excited with their frequent changes of leadership but their contribution to democratic values, national growth and developments.

The worst hit by the brain drain issue is the private sector and especially the corporate organizations that the experience of high rate of labour turnover, after they must have spent a substantial amount in the training and development of staff who willfully abandon their services in search of greener pastures abroad. Therefore, these affected organizations should liaise and come up with policies and programmes that are aimed at retaining the service of their valued staff.

The Nigerian Labour Congress should come up with a blue print of how they can contribute to the success of the on-going civil service reforms to change the image of the lazy and nepotic nature of the Nigerian civil service. The NLC should help in establishing and managing of co-operative societies among its members. Also, it should seek to mobilize funds for the construction of low cost housing estate to ease the sufferings of its members in places like Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt etc. organization of training programmes such as seminars, conferences, and workshops will position its members for increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Political parties and other individuals seeking public offices in year 2007 should be strategizing on how they can meaningfully contribute to the economic development efforts therefore winning the confidence of the people long before elections, as manifested by the late M. K. O. Abiola in the 1993 polls. They should invest a substantial portion of their wealth in the development of the human capital than distributing five hundred naira notes to seek votes during elections. Nigerians should no longer be taken for fools.

Me thinks, Nigerians should be ready to contribute their efforts in whatever ways to increase the spate of economic growth and development efforts of the present administration. I, despite all criticisms have always seen President Olusegun Obasanjo as a tough minded optimist that sees Nigeria’s economic problem as a challenge to our collective intelligence, ingenuity and faith. He believes we should keep on thinking, praying and believing. He knows there is a solution and together we’ll finally find it. GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

Segun Kukoyi
49, Onajimi Street Owotutu
Bariga Lagos
01-8157688, 08037138994

Webmistress' Note: This letter was mailed to Nigerian media and cc'ed to us


It was an eye opener

I read your article on brain drain in the guardian of Nov. 4th 2003. It was an eye opener for me because the name Philip Emeagwali has been stuck in my mind for the past 3 years since i first heard abou you in my History of Science and Technology class in my 2nd year at school.

I am an enthusiast and would be grateful if you could please give me details concerning operating a call centre, from the international perspective.Though im not a businessman i do recognise the fact that the right information needs to get the right people to ensure effective utilization. This i believe would go a long way towards reversing the brain drain in our society.

Thanks in anticipation may God grant you more knoledgeto execel and bring honour to our black race

John Nna-Okpabi
Dept. of Mech Engrg
University of Science& Tech.
Port Harcourt



Dear Dede Philip,

Greetings from Nigeria.

I hope I am not bothering you with my frequent mails. which it is just that I have seen a brother in who has a burden to see his father land take it’s rightful place in the comity of nations.

While driving home last week, in the midst of our usual traffic jam, I began to think about you and ideas of what we could do together started flooding my head. Thank God,for the grace He has given me in initiating projects.

I quickly graped my idea notebook while others were feeling frustrated in the traffic jam, I started jotting down ideas about projects that have the potentials to change the face of Nigeria and Africa earlier than we can imagine


Philip Emeagwali Computer and Internet Learning Centres:


To provide condusive learning and research environment for promoting technological advancement of Africa.

How will the centres operate:

  1. Establish computer and internet learning centers in selected rural/urban areas.
  2. The learning centers will be equipped with modern computer/internet equipments.
  3. The centers will be manned by highly skilled professionals who share this vision with us.
  4. The centers will run training programmes designed to train the following caliber of personnels.
    • Computer trained teachers for ­ nursery, primary, secondary schools.
    • Computer trained lecturers for universities and other high schools
    • Computer trained personnels for corporate bodies.
    • Train programmers and write programmes for companies other users.
    • Train computer trained personnels for public institutions
    • Run computer related professional courses.
  5. The centres will run holiday coaching programmes for student on vacations.
  6. Carry out computer related campaigns and public enlightment programmes.
  7. Mount deliberate motivational prgrammes to encourage individual, communities, associations, government to take prominent interest in computer knowledge acquisition
  8. Give scholarships to outstanding students to study computer related courses in the universities.
  9. Sponsor candidates on computer rated overseas trips.
  10. Donate computer equipments to schools and public places.


  1. Establish libraries in selected rural and urban centers
  2. Display some of your inventions and publications
  3. Render computer related services to schools, colleges and universities.
  4. Run the programmes in A above.

This foundation will have many arms such as

  1. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet Learning Centres
  2. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet Libraries and Gallaries
  3. Philip Emeagwali Scholarship Fund on Computer & Internet Courses.
  4. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet University.
Under this foundation, 1 and 2 above will cover the details in No A and B ideas earlier stated.
  • The scholarship fund on computer and internet related courses will be given prominent focus designed to train and prepare personnels that will manage the proposed call centers.
  • Also emphasis will be given on personnel that will be dedicated to writing of programmes and development of other software items.

    On the Philip Emeagwali Computer and Internet University, it will be a specialized university dedicated to the training of much required manpower that will give Africa the technological advancement.

    Your influence and contact will make it easy to secure the license to operate the university.

  • It will be established in your hometown or any other location of your choice.
  • It could also be a multi-campus university for strategic reasons.
  • Campus could be established in other African countries.
  • It will offer courses that are computer and internet related in graduate and post graduate levels.


    Both No A, No B and No. C ideas share the same benefits such as

    1. Immortalizing your name in Africa
    2. immortalizing your inventions in Africa
    3. Serve as instruments to motivate the up coming generation to the heights you have attained.
    4. Provide reading and learning centre for technological based knowledge acquisition.
    5. Provide research facilities for further technological breakthroughs.
    6. Train the much needed computer personnels that will take over the call centers.
    7. Develop industry based programmes that will aid the development of African economies. Offer scholarship to students who would not have had the opportunity.
    8. Challenge other outstanding professionals in other fields of endeavour to contribute to the development of the African society.
    9. The projects could help fulfill your dream of reversing the brain drain to brain gain.
    10. Develop Africa technologically.

    1. Land and locations: Various communities local, state and federal governments will be ready to donate lands for the projects.
    2. Various Corporate bodies and institutions that have benefited from your invention will be more than willing to fund the project being your pet projects
    3. Various donor agencies would be willing to be part to the vision.
    4. Various foreign governments will also gladly give to support the project
    5. The Nigerian and African governments will also be willing to support.
    6. An internationally organized fund raising programme even involving former US President ­ Bill Clinton will yield much more than we can imagine.
    7. As soon as the projects takes off, it will be self sustaining since individuals, corporate governments and institutions will be more than willing to pay for the services being rendered
    8. Being non-profit, any surplus fund will be ploughed back to expand the vision to other areas that are of interest to us.
    Please let me know your views on these suggestions.

    Thank you and God



    Good day Sir,

    My Name is Michael Domino Jr. I live in Portharcourt Nigeria.

    I read your speech in the Guardian newspaper dated Tuesday. November 4, 2003 delivered by your humble self at the Pan African Conference. I must confess that it was most revealing and your suggestions on moving High Tech jobs to Africa, out-sourcing call centre jobs to the developing nations got me thinking.

    Due to the unemployment situation in Nigeria, as Graduate I went into Small scale Business with little or no experience about the rules of the business world. I have had two Failled attempts loosing quite some money for a young starter, but I have refused to give up.

    Presently I am working on some foriegn firms if I can tie up Principal - Agency agreement with my own company so I can become a manufacturer's rep. here in Nigeria and its Sub- region.

    This is why your speech caught my attention.

    How can One size such an opportunity?

    Do you have any foundation charged with the responsibility of realising this, then I would want to know how I can be a part of this dream for Africa .

    I am on phone both at home and at the office so this kind of business is interesting.

    If there is any ground work to be done as regards this Local terrain then I want to let you know that I am ready to work.

    Mr. Philip I do not know the best way to have written to you, I do not mean to disrespect you, writting to you directly, I got your address from your web site.

    I will anticipate a reply from you Sir.

    Best Regards!
    Michael Domino, Jr.


    dear prof.phillip,

    pray not be afraid the manner i got ur adrress, i only saw it on phillip emegwali's site just as you will see mine there too. i read with tear in my eyes the brain drain article, oh good lord! you will agree with me that it is very awful to know that both the diasporic africans and the identified ones are lost in an unimaginable war just like a voice in the widerness.

    Is there little or nothing anyone can do to reverse this situation?are we going to allow the story to keep going like this? cant we challenge the statusquo? and eliminate the old warrior, create another story and make the initial story the warrior so that the new african story could be greater than the warrior of brain drain. what is our position on turning the brain drain to brain gain?are we going to keep our fingers crossed and allow things to form out itself? even though it might take till eternity,oh! alas! the slumberous africa youth should rise and effect a land mark revolution that starts right now.

    We must rise in unison to challenge the statusquo even if the final change will come generations after ours, a journey of million miles starts with just a step,it is high time we start, else we allow the nagging problem to persist longer than it should.

    Dearest fellows, we are so strong to have survived the slave trade and the colonial era though with big damage to our dignity and orientation which in a way constituted to our present predicament but at least we survived it! Our whole race did not disappear into the thin air, here we are , still doing great things like in the case of our dear philips whom we are so proud of. But come to think of it, the demoralised situation in which the africans find themselves after all these oppression but we are strong, we are brave, african are born great so we are great, we like challenges, so we dare the challenge, we took the struggle to heart and we survived it , that is why we are still here on earth today.

    Therefore are we not going to take up this challenge of brain drain?

    In this light, we as a brave group of youths in africa has taken it upon ourselves to reverse this situation,we are quite aware that it is not an easy task but we are prepared to lay the foundation for other generation that will come and finish the job.

    We are prepared to do this with all we have and with the african integrity as well because if martin luther king did not stand up for the blacks in america then, they will still be living under great oppression and discrimination, so someone has to do this for africa as well.

    We sincerely use this forum to implore you to join our campaign for a more resolute and progreesive africa in the nearest future.

    We beleive in your ideas, we beleive in your dedication, we beleive in your braivety, we beleive in your support and co-operation to raise and better the life of an entire race, be part of history, contribute your ideas on how to reverse the brain drain, join us!!!!!!!!!


    please help us build our new africa dream.



    The entire black race is proud of you

    My biggest brother,

    It felt so good reading about your exploits in the computer world.I came to know about you a few days ago while reading your keynote address at Pan African Conference entitled "TURNING THE BRAIN DRAIN INTO BRAIN GAIN". You left everybody in no doubt that intellectual capital is the only path to poverty alleviation in Africa. I quite agree with you. I was particularly touched about how you single handedly ensured the emmigration of 35 members of your family to America. This is a no mean feat considering how difficult it is to cross over to America. Biggest brother, you are really an achiever, I rejoice with you. Lest I forget, my name is Chima Uba.I am a college graduate .Biggest brother, it will really feel like heaven on earth reading from you. peace and God bless. My regards to your lovely family members.

    Chima Uba


    I was marvelled

    Dear Sir, I was excited when I stumbled on your address to the African in Diaspora in America in the Guardian Newspaper just last week concerning BRAIN DRAIN AND BRAIN GAIN. I was marvelled not about the content on its own but the way and manner the note was delivered.I wish to let you realise that the problem of Africa and Nigeria in particular is the problem of leadership.Here,we have leaders who knows the least about governance with the exception of a few ,like Kuffuor of Ghana.Your address came at a time when the President of Peru came to Nigeria to address the UNESCO MEET,where he made it known the education should be given priority by the third world because he happens to be a product of one.Also in your note ,you made lucid references to India stealing most of the jobs from Africa.This will surely happen where we have governments leaders who have no regards for the education of their people.

    Sir,I will like to hear from you and pray that God will change the kind of leaders we are blessed with in Africa and in Nigeria in particular.

    Thanks for this opportunity.

    Adisa,Saheed Adedeji.


    Outsourcing call center jobs to Nigerians

    BLOCK 54,FLAT 6,


    I came across the keynote speech by you,titled,HOW DO WE REVERSE THE BRAIN DRAIN?,at the pan African conference on brain drain,Elsah Illinois on october 24 2003,in The GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER (NIGERIA).

    Let me use this medium to congratulate you on your numerous achievements in the field of computer science and technology and also to state that you are a true son of Ndi Igbo.You have made us proud. You have demonstrated that the Black race has the potential to make revolutionary changes in science technology.I used to think that the white race is exclusively endowed with the ability to advance the horizon of science and technology.

    I am interested in outsourcing call center jobs to Africa instead of India as you stressed.The unemployment rate in Nigeria is very high.Thousands of university graduates are without jobs.Please sir,assist us by connecting us to U S companies about to outsource call center jobs or provide to us their websites or postal addressess so that we can write them.

    Thank you for the anticipated consideration and cooperation.I look forward to get a reply.

    Yours sincerely,



    I came in tontact with this website in a Nigerian newspaper which published your lecture of 24th October, 2003 titled: "Turning brain drain to brain gain". I am yet to explore the riches of this website. From what I have seen so far, Mazi Emeagwali would remain a source of inspiration to the youth of impoverished Africa and the Third Word as a whole. There is no fitting tribute so far to him than that paid by President Clinton and the CNN. The death of Biafra marked the death of technological development in this part of this world. Those who conspired to kill Biafra had a hidden agenda that detracts from the deceitful slogan "To keep Nigeria One..."

    A. E. Udensi, Abuja


    Dear Dr. Emeagwali,
    I am an ardent discipline of yours and my admiration for you is one for the books.
    I find your articles a lot motivating and inspiring. I am a young Nigerian graduate of Computer Science living and working in Lagos.
    Now i find your keynote speech on reversing brain drain a most rewarding document i have ever read. But i wish to disagree with you on one point and that is about the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and his cohorts not having the intellectual power to counter corruption.
    I may be wrong but i beleive there is a great divide between Intellectualism and Morality. In this country alone i must tell you that there are so many of those our so called intellectuals who aid corruption and have refused to channel such intellect for the benefit of the country.
    I tell you that only disciplined and selfless intellectuals both home and away can really do us any good. So there may be intellectuals among the CBN management at that time but lack the morals and the discipline to do what they were supposed to do.
    Continue to be and inspiration to us the younger generation in this country as we learn from your experiences and hope that one day the people in power would give ear and implement just 1/10 th of your suggestions and your presentations on how we can turn things around in this country and Africa in general and see what the results would be.
    I salute you (Ekene Kwam gi)
    Richard Nduka



    Dear Emeagwali,

    It gives me great joy and sense of pride to have learned about your existence, surprisingly not from any Nigerian, but from the former president of the United State(President Bill Clinton), during his state visit to Nigeria a few years ago, when he mentioned you as one of the greatest mind of the information age and a founding father of the internet!!!

    Since then, I have read quite a lot about you and have made your web site my most favourite and have introduced it to numerous friends and colleagues (Your web site also served as a historical library on the Nigerian-Biafran war and was very illuminating).

    I was glad when I read the speech you delivered at the Pan African Conference, Oct.24, 2003 on changing the Brain Drain into Brain Gain (Africans in Diaspora).

    My particular interest is on Nigerians in Diaspora. (One out of six African is a Nigerian), since statistically we make the majority of Africans suffering from the brain drain.

    Time and space may not allow me to go into great detail how it has greatly affected and impacted on our educational and technological development. However, I will like to make a "PATRIOTIC" request from you.

    Can GREAT MINDS of Nigerian decent (like you and others) come together in the form of a conference to fashion out a blue print for the renaissance on Education, Science and Technology and sell the idea to the present government in Nigeria? (When there is a will there is always a way).

    This will be lasting LEGACY you all (GREAT MINDS IN DIASPORA) can give to every Nigerian child today and those unborn. (We lost most of my lecturers when in school to brain drain and it wasn't easy for the students and their studies). Today I am a Process (DCS) engineer working in Nigeria with a process systems group in the UK). Brain drain has drained the blood stream of Nigeria, of the life to move our country ahead and out of the abyss of technological poverty. (5000 Nigerian professionals are lured with Green Card Visa each year to the U.S A. alone!).

    There are thousands or more Emeagwalis back here in Nigeria, but their potentials may never be discovered and nurtured if we do not act today.

    You may not get the full picture not until you visit home again (We will receive you warmly).

    Best regards.

    Atolagbe O. Rafiu.
    15th Dec.2003.


    Dear sir/madam,
    I am mailing you concerning  the brain drain to brain gain issue which was published in one the national dailies of Nigeria newspaper [The Guardian] of 4 th nov 2003.
    In this speech the father of the internet prof philp Emeagwali  said  alot of things on the issue of bringing down call centers to africa. which my members was in a great support of.  Infact we have youths ready to take up this jobs any time so i would like to use this medium to know these companies and organisations and would be glad if this can be brought over to nigeria soon .so mail me back concerning this request.right away we have a youth group on board  DiscoverBrainGain Club in Enugu state nigeria ready to work to ensure that the brain gain issue is a sucsses in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
    Yours truly
    for correspondences
    DiscoverBrainGain Club
    # 1 osadebe streetOgui new layout
    Enugu,Enugu State,
    Nigeria, Westafrica.


    Hello Sir;

    it is my heart felt wish and pleasure writing you. I am your fellow African brother and admirer calling from Lagos Nigeria. This is one of my greatest moment in life as i was opportuned to communicate with you.

    Sir, as the saying of the American president goes , i quot" God bless America". I will say to you, God bless Nigeria your Motherland. And May God bless you and the works of your hand Amen.

    Sir, i have first heard of you by the former US President when he visited Nigeria few years ago. During one of his speech, he spoke about your discoveries and your achievements in the spheres of information teechnology. Ever since, i have developed keen interest to know more of you.

    Sir, on a day in november 4th this year, i was privilaged to have come across a copy of your speech which you deliver at a forum of the Pan African Conference on " Brain Drain", at Elsah, illinois USA. on october 4th 2003. Sir, in the speech, i saw a beloved African man with great love and pride for Africa Nations, and prosperity for his motherland and peoples. A continent, he wished to see developed and prosper like any other continent of the world. i saw in you a man willing to banish a ravaging wind call "Brain Drain " in africa. Sir, i salute your courage, and i thank you for your inspiring words deli

    vered to the world, and to africa people in general. i was elevated as i read through your speech . Sir, the answers to the questions given to you to elaborate upon was excellently answered. They were of greate strength and highly sophisticated. This i suppose, was the kind of a man you were made for .

    Sir, i was deeply challenged by the answer you gave to the first question in the which you said, and i quote," i believe those with skills should be encouraged and rewarded to stay, work, and raise their families in africa." you stood firmly on this althrough, at a ti me in the history of africa, were i supposed some african leaders would have said the opposite, because they do not bother to do or bring about reforms that can translate into mush needed prosperity and development in africa soil.

    Sir, i agree with you on this noble fact. it is on this sir, that i find it privilaged to communicate with you. My aim is to solicit for an assistant from you. and to see what possible way you can help me.

    I am mr Sunday Isoni, i am 35 yrs old from Delta state Nigeria. i happened to have completed my secondary education twelve years ago, i left for Lagos were i undertoke two major skills. one as a metal aluminium fitter, dealing on the manufacturing and fixting of aluminium doors and windows etc while the other, is on water borehole drilling. on a normal circumstance, these skills shoud be able to keep me going. But in nigeria today it is the intrigue of who know who that are made to survive. The so called Godfatherism still existing in Government tends to benefit only few people, thereby leaving a large number of the society impoverish. with the high rate of unemployment, indiscriminate retrenchment form places of work, and the insecurity of jobs now in the increase, people expecially the youths of our great country have no options but to find a way for survival. this which have led to going the extreme way not minding the risk involved. some do survive from their loved ones abroad, while a very large number is with the intentions of moving out of the country and from the shores of africa. this is a disturbing trend, becouse if the youths are equiped early in life they will not think on living their country. this is of your viers and wishes when you siad in your speech that africans must be encouraged and rewarded to stay, work, and raise their families in africa.

    Sir, after giving you brief about my basic skills, i will at this juncture appeal for a financial help from you to enable me acquire few mini fabricating machines good enough for my metal work, these are the cutting machine, milling, and drilling machines. a workspace, and few other working tools. this in its estimation will cost 4,500 Dollers.

    Sir, let me say that your speech at the conference has broadened my scope of reasenening, it has uplifted my spirit, your possitive resolve to the question you ask, can the "Brain Drain " be reverse?.in the which you said "It is only a nation of human capital that can be converted into real wealth. i want to agree with you sir, it is time to invest on the individual. Our african Governments say they want to solve problems on what they called "long time plan," the africans in diaspora would want to call it " broad based solutions ".

    But the facts remain that the individual african person is yet to be touched in terms of incentives and basic qualified ways of livelihood. sir, the african technological liberation and prosperity which you have already started abroad should please be made to see the light of the day. back here at home, i hapens to be involved on this strugle indirectly but without knowing it. on many occations, i will say to my friends and inmates telling them the reasons they should stay in nigeria. some do reason with me while others see my oppinions a disgusting thing to hear. on my path, i see myself as only verbally motivating them up but materially speaking i really do not have what it takes to prove to my collaeques what i want them to believe. sir, i will say that speady action should be taking if the "brain drain" issue must be tackled headlong. i know it can be done, if the african individual lifes is uplifted, if his prestige and dignity in life is restored, this i believe will diminsh his aspirations for wanting to live out of his country and nigeria in particular.

    Dear sir, let me also say that i am greatly enlightened and interested by one of your resolve in which you mention some ways out of "brain drain."one of which is by job creation in africa. sir, having seen the world moving fast into advance technology, it will be also very wise for one to know and see if there are other opportunities avialable to him. sir, my venture into this aspect of my discussions, should be seen as another great opportunity upon up to me. it is one way wereby we africans can get our economic freedom and development, this is one strong based economic empowerment words i have ever heard of in africa. sir, i will say that higher education along should not be seen as the only parameter to place the africa people development, there are millions of africans, and nigeria in particuler who are of secondary education level that are brainwise and commited to the course of progress. sir, with concernted training and motivations, we can go more miles than espected.

    Going by your explanations you mention aspects of these opportunities, which as you said are the "call centers" and the "customers services". etc. sir, having seen this how can i as an individual be a beneficiary of this wonderful project. i am very mush interested. i need your guide on this aspects. these innovations are new to most africans and nigeria in particuler, like as you said, it is a high tech thing which requires multinational supports, but becouse of its viability as was highlighted by you, it has become something to know and to do. just as you emphasised in your speech" that it could be sheaper, or economically feasible for a telephone sales person to reside in Anglophone africa while virtually employed in the united states, also, going by your example given using a house wife working from her home as a testcase. These are your noble idears to raise the lifes of the african people from the bottom to the top. sir, how can help me run a self employed " call center" in nigeria, if this is not possible on an individual basis, how can i be employed by a firm while doing the work from nigeria. i am aware of the technicalities involved on this, but with your guide it is going to be possible. sir, your reply to my letter could be the needed difference in my life, i know with the almighty on your side it can be done. I look forward hearing from you soon.

    In conclution, and speaking from a local sceen here in nigeria. there are new emerges of technological advances taking root for the past three years now. that is the advent of g.s.m. mobile telephone and the internet services, under this system, a phone center is acquired were people make and receive telephone calls, the other,is what is called internet or cybercafes, using computers to send and to receive "emails" messages from loved ones and friends. having see these centers in opperational here in nigeria, i was able to know for now , a small way opperational setting up of the g.s.m. phone and the cybercafes centers. to start with, it requires a call office or a phone center, telephone sets, few computer sets for internet or international calls, a mini generating set, licencing, and other opperational work and appliances. this is estimated to cost 5,000 dollers.

    Sir, starting with this on an immediate step will assist me much for now. while on a longterm it may collaborate with your idear of the "call center,"as enunciated by you, using a phone cell and a laptop computer to work. by which time i hope the needed technical imputes and skills would have been learned. please sir, you will help me achieve this. technological breakthrough, was let out during your meeting at elsah illinois, your efforts that day was not in vain, you were actually inspiring the world and africans in general, pointing out it is time africa regain its economic and technological freedom, it renaissance in full sense. this efforts can be achieved, just as people say, when the words of men are seperated from the words of boys. you are a man of high calibre, your name commands respect all over the world. please bail me out. sir, do not look at the fund at its face, but please look at the gains it will bring forth. with all these innovations going on now in and outside our shores, i would not want to be left out. i am determined more than ever after been inspired by you, sir, as i write you, my heart beats not knowing what you will feel about me. though it may be hard to believe that a single keynot speech in far away America has led to this plead of rendering a helping hand to an african brother you have not seen. please sir, read me carefully to see me in your heart, for i have already seen you through your words at the conference. my prayer is that, may the lord our saviour who gave you grace and life to transform the lifes of your loved ones and colleaques, also give the might to help me. i have tried on my own to raise fund to start something but to no avail, i have got non to help me out, sir, if i am assisted in whatever ways or sum i promise to pay it back after a time frame if i am asked to do so.i am saying this to prove my determination and my resolve to succeed in life, please find a place of mercy in the heart and help me.

    sir, the answer you gave to the eight question asked was dynamic, the modern day slavery must stop, if, i am empowered, and in return others are empowered by me and so on, then the visa lottery been warn or given this days to african married women and youths will be put to an end. by this, i believe that your dream of transfering back to africa the much needed technological advances and jobs would have been achieved. going by your words as you were about closing your speech, and i quote, "doing so will enable us to create a "brain drain"from the united states to convert it into "brain gain".for africa.

    sir, i must say that your speech on that faithful day have enable me rediscorver myself, and also have reminds me that africa has great potentials that can make africa rise to its glory if faint not. i must thank you for this new awakening in my life. i promise to uphold the wisdom and knownledge embeded in your speech to the world and to africa in general.


    May your repply to my letter bring me hope for tommoroh. i know for sure, that you have mush more to offer to me.

    Sir, i shall be oblige to give you any informations needed by you in relation to my request.

    May God richly bless you, and continue to guide you on the greate and knownledgeble works you are doing to the benefit of humanity.

    My regards to your family.

    I look earnestly, and hopefuly, to hearing from you soon.

    Yours faithfully,

    Mr, Isoni sunday.



    Hi Phillip,
    My Name is Wallace Ngugi from Kenya, a friend of mine from South Africa e-mailed me a copy of your speech and it was truly a powerful speech that brings to reality the truth and the actual effect of brain drain. As with your country, Kenya has suffered as much in terms of brain drain, and we are loosing more graduates to the US, Europe everyday.
    However In Kenya recently we have are experiencing a renaissance to start with politically after bringing into power a government we believe will help us break form poverty and help create new jobs, and a government that is more willing to listen to Ideas from the private sector, that can help grow the economy and be more willing to listen.
    I am graduate in Bachelors of Commerce (Accounting), I had the opportunity to travel to Europe or America to master my degree and most probably would have followed the natural course and got a job with one of the multinationals and most probably stayed.
    However as you wr ote money in itself does not create wealth, but empowering people via employment is the way to do it. I started my first business two years ago and I was selling mobile phones, and by year two I was employing nine Kenyans.
    My vision is in Call Centres together my new company " Call Centre Africa Ltd" with 5 other Indigenous Kenyan companies we have formed an Association called " Kenya ICT Service Exporters” and we are the fore front of making guide lines for the Business Process Outsource Industry in Kenya and our associations main objectives are to: 1. Promote e- services in domestic and International market 2.Develop codes of practice for existing and new members 3. Facilitate capacity building 4.Assist government in developing an appropriate enabling environment. Further more we are setting up an Incubator project with a pilot project of 600 seats.
    We are appealing to all the Africans in the Diaspora to help us achieve our goal and to support our brothers wh o opted to stay back and create wealth for our fellow brothers without having to create wealth for other countries.
    Thank you for your inspiring article, and you can count on Kenya as one of the countries in Africa that will indeed reverse the “brain drain to gain”.

    Wallace Ngugi


    I sent a mail to you early last year when I was still
    in the university (I wanted you to help me on writing
    a project on paperless environment, and you told me to
    use the internet). I was very impressed that you
    replied the mail and also wrote a sentence in Igbo -
    ji sie ike.
    I just read your keynote speech at the Pan African
    Conference on Brain Drain titled "How do we reverse
    the brain drain?"
    I just want to tell you that there are certain people,
    things and organisations that make meproud of being a
    Nigerian and you are one of them. (Well, I believe I
    am first a Nigerian because my Igboness cannot be
    taken away from me, it is in the way I behave, in my
    association with others, in the food I speak,..., in
    my blood).
    Keep making us proud. Our generation needs the right
    role models, we have seen too much of bad role models
    who have taught us that money or/and power gotten in
    any way is right - the end justifies the means.
    The truth is that We (Nigeria) are going to succeed
    because we have no choice. I have met and talked to
    likeminds and they believe and want to work towards
    the same thing. They have decided to drop the vices
    (as many as they can) and promote good values.
    I also believe this government has good policies that
    would push us forward - well, some. I don't think I
    like the present persident, for his arrogance,
    know-all attitude, disrespect, dislike for the Igbo
    nation etc. Some of the government policies would
    certainly decrease corruption and inefficiency in
    We need more people like you to look up to and speak
    and advice on the way forward. You still need to speak
    more and louder. For now the only country we have is
    Nigeria - tomorrow we don't know where we are going.
    You have to speak more
    Jie sie ike.
    Chibuzo Amaefule.



    15th December. 2003

    Dear Emeagwali,

    Thank you for the very interesting speech on turning “brain drain” into “brain grain” delivered by you at the Pan African Conference, Elsah, Illinois on October 24, 2003. As a trained fitter/Machinist (affiliated to Mechanical Engineering) I was naturally interested in the aforementioned article. I am sure it provoked a great deal of thought among your contemporaries (the African Diaspora), our African Leaders, our technocrats (at home) and so-on.

    This transformation which you prophesy will surely be precipitated by you and your co-travelers if our African Leaders are able to wake from their slumber and create such enabling environment. At present, our West African Leaders nay every other African Leader seems to have thrown the very ingredients which would (have) lure(d) the African Diaspora back to their various homes to the dog - and are on the pursuit of their various interest.

    I am not qualified as an en Engineer, nor have (I) been at close range of the four corners of the University. Life is not the same for everybody. Some people are so lucky, they come out of secondary school and they go straight to the University because they have the back up of people and it is so easy. It looks simple …… mine was different. But I am determined. I believe that practice can hone some into perfection. Definitely, I will be honed, one of these days, into perfection.

    However, I strongly have the believe that to actualize this dream of reversing the brain drain our leaders will not only take the forerunner stand, but would also be ready to sacrifice much of their wealth in the areas of security, good network of roads, constant power supply, and other infrastructural development.

    As at 1995, or thereabout, I read from one of our national dailies that the then minister of science and technology (Maj. Gen. Sam Momah) under the late Abacha’s regime was making frantic efforts (or was it fruitless efforts) in order to lure you back to our fatherland. I trembled within me and subsequently I had a few nightmares. From the popular stand (the stand I happen to belong to) I followed the ‘melodrama’ with curiosity and anxiety till it was buried naturally with the late Head of State.

    Well, I am glad you did not play into their deceitful plan. You were wise enough and it is a thing of Joy to me.

    At that same period, two prominent sons of Igbo Land (and African Diaspora at United States of America) who would have by now ascended to more honorable position or would have, at least, glowed nearer to your status, were sent to the great beyond for no Justifiable reason other than the love of their fatherland . Yet, till date, not even the honour for the dead (posthumous) have been granted them.

    Charles Emecheta (name Unsure) was a nuclear physicist. He was lured from his abode (United States) into the hand of death by the then Administrator of Enugu State (Navy. Capt. Temi Ejor). He served only but a few months as the Director General (position unsure) of the Enugu State Water Cooperation Management Board before the cruel hands of Assassins sent him to eternal rest at the main gate of his compound!. Till date, the mysteries behind his elimination are yet to be unmasked. Lugubrious! … Indeed, a show of shame and disappointment.

    As if by coincidence, a medical practitioner (if not a Cardiologist) by name Godwin Umezoke (name Unsure) from Awgu, in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State met his waterloo because of non caring attitude of our leaders. This prominent son of ours willfully came home from ‘God’s own Country’ to set the pace for other African Diaspora, but was rewarded with untimely death.

    His father was by then having kidney problem at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu. There was no equipment for such complex operation when he arrived. Yet he courageously and successfully registered his name in the Nigeria’s Guinness book (if any) by carrying out such a horrible (Surgical) operation on his own father. What a break through!... He did not stop at that; but backed this monumental act with a pledge to import into the hospital the needed apparatus for such future operations. With this and other promise of assistance in the training of would be personnel in this field of kidney operation, he left Enugu to his home town Awgu, which was a few kilometer (KM) drive. This was a Journey he would not live to accomplish. His dream, his academic prowess, his determinant spirit and so-on were to go down into the land of no return.

    He had just galloped a few distance on our death trap (of course that is how every other road in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, if not all the roads in Nigeria seem to be) when his car which was not familiar with the road rammed into one of the ageless and endless pot holes along the road and off it flew… somersaulted a few times and the rest was history.

    Till date, these sad events still linger in my mind. I always have the turn on - in anything that is good, especially when it emanates from Igbo land. I, as an Igbo man is solidly behind you, and I will not seize being proud of your achievements and steady rise. Jide k’iji Nnanyi-oh!... Who ever that is told to be steadfast on what he is doing is on the right course.

    But in my sincere mind, I will never support the idea of you coming home at this point in time. We who are at this area are seeking the slightest opportunity to escape from this hostile environment to reach the greener pasture. The sooner the better. This is not by our making; nor does this amount to hatred to our fatherland. The truth is that the situation at present is unbearable for us (the present generation). Yours were lucky. I must confess that had it been you were in this Country at this point in time, nothing on earth would have made you to reach at your present height unless you were one of the sons of the affluent in our society, or you were ready to throw away ethics and its virtue and choose the part of absurdity.

    It was ridiculous and lugubrious to me when I read through your speech on how your father contributed twenty five years to Nigerian Society as a nurse, and was retired on a $ 25 - per - month pension. It propelled a careful thought within me. I gazed into the future and found it holding uncertainty and dismay for myself. I am at present on a salary scale of seven thousand naira (N7, 000.00) which is about $ 48.27 if the naira (which has lost its value) is exchanged at the rate of “N145:00 is to $ 1.00. Yet I have more than seven mouths to feed: my wife, my two kids, my aged parents and my siblings. How could I cope with this sort of situation? This firm I am serving, at present, has only but little to offer for my success. My work schedule starts from 7.a.m. through to 7.p.m. There’s no opportunity for me to attend evening class so that, at least, I can obtain a meaningful Certificate which can help me seek employment in any better organized establishment. My Director is one of the Nigerian Opportunist. To him education, experiment or research is nothing but laziness and complete waste of fund. I have never experienced the benefit of work free day let alone of leave or holiday since I joined this Company. Increment of Salary and promotion (if any) is limited. Worst of all, there’s no hope of honourable retirement: The moment any of the few Staffs becomes weak (either because of age, ill health, or fatigue) the Company’s (one man) management will not hesitate in showing such a person the way out of the company’s gate without any additional benefit.

    At this moment, I am torn between leaving this company and continuing. But how could I opt for the former? I wandered many a time from one company owned by my fellow countrymen to another and I have the verdict that none of them is distinct from each other. Secondly, I have my wife and the two kids. There’s no way I can carry them along if I insist that wandering is the best option. I have no other option than to tally with this internal and eternal slavery!

    Well, I have no one to blame. My only regret is that I am from a Country pervaded with corrupt practice. This situation has now created an adverse effect on us the less privileged ones. Our genuine plans and vision for this country are now at the mercy of this horrible stigma. All of our efforts in order to exhibit our God given talents are now viewed as people with a ploy to outsmart others.

    This stigma has hitherto created seizeless and unprecedented nightmare within me. I have a dream project. This could be of great benefit to any country that really intend to progress. I have a technical design (of my own) of a sea-motor bike, sand - dredger boat, twenty five sitter-sea bus, motor spare parts (a few of them) and other machineries. I had sent some of these designs to few prominent people in our society but none of them even responded by sending words of advice or encouragement to me let alone of making pledge of sponsorship. Although, you would not hesitate in reasoning that I am not educated enough, but I know that it did not take Marconi to become an Engineer before he became the father of wireless. I also know and still believe that ones this project is supported by the affluent(s) in our midst, in no distance future, my products will be exported to other nations.

    I have lost all hopes. I cannot even establish my own workshop. Perhaps, it could have been my starting point. The very machines which would have propelled me towards my ambition are as follow: Prince Machine a (product of Kingston Engr. Co. LTD. London; and it is meant for regrinding of crankshaft of any kind). Re-boring machine (for re-sleeving and re-boring of any Vehicle’s engine block). Lathe Machine (any of the various sizes), medium size drilling machine, giant size welding machine, set of dice and tap (for threading bolts and nuts), set of spanner (Ring, flat, and socket spanners) and three phase generator that can supply about 37.5 KVA…These equipments are estimated at about three million five hundred thousand naira (N3.5 m) and it is a bit below twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) in an exchange rate. However, the aforementioned amount is for the fairly used machines known as ‘Belgium’ in our local language.

    With these equipments at hand, I am cleared off the coast of this predicament I have been hitherto tallying with. In no distance future, many other souls will be saved through me. If I am opportune to own these equipments, definitely, I will not relapse nor will I stop at nothing in pursuing my set target; and my family will not experience hunger again. Most of all, my ambition of obtaining meaningful educational certificate through evening class or adult education program will easily be achieved. I am in this field and I know what these machines yield annually for my director.

    From the onset of my crying for help to so many different people, I have never requested any amount of money from anybody, rather my request to them is that they should buy these machines by themselves and hand them over to me. If they are in doubt of my sincerity, and, or, of my refunding the money they spent in buying these machines at the right time, they should first and foremost be aware of where I will station the equipments, and they should remain in constant touch with me till all their money is refunded to them.

    I have shouted enough, yet no one cares to listen. It is a matter of regret and disappointment that at this my thirty three years of age I am still toiling day and night with nothing to give account of. Yet deep down within me is an ocean of success and value to mankind which glows with sadness away from me. Who could save the situation? Who could I take solace from? I am yet to find.

    Thank you once again. Jidesie k’iji ike-oh! We who are at the mercy of hunger and starvation for no just cause (irrelevant of the fact that we are surrounded by so many different riches) hereby greet you. We are solidly behind you. Thank you for proving yourself a worthy Igbo ambassador. Jidesie k’iji ike-oh!...

    Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!

    Yours faithfully

    Ugwuoke Chibuzor

    Chibuzor is one of the despised stones by the Nigeria nation builders. He is at present with THWINS SUB Diving and Engineering Services. No. 137B Eket-Oron Road, Eket. Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

    He can be reached on the E-mail


    Out Of India
    Jan. 11, 2004
    Transcript of CBS 60 minutes

    To many American employers, India is Nirvana. It has a stable democracy, an enormous English-speaking population, and a solid education system that each year churns out more than a million college graduates - all happy to work for a fraction of the salary of their American counterparts.

    And India epitomizes the new global economy -- a country that often looks on the edge of collapse, a background of grinding poverty, visually a mess.

    And yet, whether you know it or not, when you call Delta Airlines, American Express, Sprint, Citibank, IBM or Hewlett Packard's technical support number, chances are you'll be talking to an Indian. Correspondent Morley Safer reports.

    offshore outsourcing to India

    "We're doing customer servicing there," says Raman Roy, chairman of Wipro Spectramind, a leading outsourcing company. He helped start the Indian call center boom in the '90s when he came up with a business plan for American companies to direct their calls to India.

    Wipro had to build their own generators and their own satellite phone systems. The call centers are cool, self-sufficient islands in an uncertain sea of chaotic Indian street life. Inside, round-the-clock, they keep America on the line.

    "We service the globe. We service all parts of the world irrespective of what time it is here or there," says Roy.

    New Dehli is nearly 11 hours ahead of New York, so manning the phones is largely night work. By day, the agents - as they're called - are dutiful Indian sons and daughters. By night, they take on phone names such as Sean, Nancy, Ricardo and Celine so they can sound like the girl or boy next door.

    "The real name is Tashar. And name I use is Terrance," says one representative.

    "My real name is Sangita. And my pseudo name is Julia," says another representative. "Julia Roberts happened to be my favorite actress, so I just picked out Julia."

    American movies are part of an agent's training in how to sound all-American.

    Lavanya Prabhu is a call center trainer who guides young Indians through the labyrinth of American English. And she says she is able to pick up some of typical American accents while instructing her students.

    "Well, you have Brooklyn. 'You walk the walk and you talk the talk.' And you have the southerner's thing. 'Oh hello, there. What can I do for you today,'" says Prabhu, who spends most of her time trying to de-Indianize her countrymen.

    But it's difficult to get in. In fact, Prabhu says they accept approximately five applicants out of 100 applications.

    offshore outsourcing to India

    On any given day in New Delhi and Bombay and Bangalore, the call goes out for new call center recruits as more and more American companies come calling. The call center employees earn $3,000 to $5,000 a year, in a nation where the per capita income is less than $500. The perks include free private transport to and from work plus the sheer heaven of an air-conditioned workplace.

    There are few aspects of your telephonic life that do not sooner or later end up in India - from someone talking you into a new credit card, to your
    attempt to return your mother-in-law's wonderful gift, to making sure you've paid that bill.

    Debt collection is, as it has always been, a growth industry.

    Arjun Raina, a Shakespearean actor, helps debt collectors and others trying to wheedle money out of you play the part.

    "There's also a hierarchy of bill collectors. There's the sweet gentle one who's first calling in and saying, 'Just reminding you,' right? And then the toughies come in, you see? And the toughies have it quite good because the, for example, a lot of men have no problem being aggressive, right? Accent doesn't matter," says Raina. "You know, once I'm being aggressive with you, I don't have to be polite and neat. I can be tough with you, right?"

    Partha Iyengar, an analyst in India for Gartner, an American research company, says this is probably the best example of globalization.

    "Absolutely. We've had globalization in the manufacturing sector with the auto industry, and Japan really emerging as a major auto power. We've had globalization in the low end manufacturing industry with China emerging as a global power," says Iyengar. "But this is the first time in the knowledge industry we have globalization impacting two countries at such a large scale -- India and the U.S."

    The U.S. government does not keep track of how many American jobs have gone overseas, but there are estimates that in just the last three years, as many as 400,000 jobs have gone to places like China, Russia, and India.

    "The reason the companies are coming here is to really be more competitive and that cannot be bad for the U.S. economy," says Iyengar, who believes the effect of outsourcing on the Indian economy has been quite dramatic.

    "There are some estimates that say that the whole outsourcing revolution, if we can call it that, will really be one of the key factors in moving India towards developed economy status."

    At which time, India would probably outsource to China, for the same four reasons the U.S. outsources to India -- money, money, money and money.

    What would be the savings to a multi-national company?

    "You save anywhere between 30 to 50 percent," says Wipro chairman Roy.

    And this is enough to dazzle even the most patriotic CEO, and so, JP Morgan Chase is hiring Indian stock analysts.

    Indians also answer some of the's e-mail. And AOL and Dell send technical calls to India. Plus, if your doctor prescribes an MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, it may be analyzed by a radiologist in India.

    So what's left? Well, there's taxes. Last year, only a thousand U.S. tax returns were prepared in India. This year, there were 25,000.

    "And next year, people are estimating that about 200,000 returns will be prepared in India," says Dave Wyle, a 31-year-old American entrepreneur who expects to make a fortune on outsourcing for U.S. accounting firms through his company, Sureprep, based in Bombay.
    What makes India such a good candidate for outsourcing taxes specifically?

    "The cost of the labor - it's a fraction of the cost," says Wyle. "You might be paying somebody $300 to $400 a month there that might make $3,000 to $4,000 a month or more in the United States."

    Sureprep currently does work for more than 150 U.S. accounting firms, and its client list grows larger each month.

    "These accounting firms range from small local firms to right now, it's about 20 of the top 100 firms including one of the national firms," says Wyle.

    Those American firms scan an individual's tax documents into a computer. An Indian accountant logs on, fills out the return on his computer, and then it's printed out in the U.S., checked, signed and sent to the IRS.

    But most people regard their tax returns as among the most private things they have. Is there any risk of that security being broken with tax returns flying through the ozone?

    "The type of security you see in this facility is generally much more so than you would see in any U.S. accounting firm. Everything is paperless," says Wyle. "You'll notice in the facility there's no pens or papers on the desk. There's no printers in the work room. Everything's done on screen."
    Young successful businessmen like Wyle and Roy no longer view the world as a place with boundaries.

    "This is a global economy," says Wyle.

    "Geography is history. Distances don't matter anymore," adds Roy.

    But beyond the success and the money that's being made in this business, there's a terrific sense of national pride that India is making its mark in this very sophisticated way.

    "There is a huge amount of nationalistic pride," says Roy. "Because we want to show that as a work force, as a labor pool, we are equivalent to, if not better than, anybody else. Anywhere in the world."



    1. Emeagwali delivering the keynote speech at the Pan African Conference, Elsah, Illinois, October 24, 2003

    2. Emeagwali delivering the keynote speech at the Pan African Conference, Elsah, Illinois, October 24, 2003

    3. Emeagwali delivering the keynote speech at the Pan African Conference, Elsah, Illinois, October 24, 2003

    4. Emeagwali delivering the keynote speech at the Pan African Conference, Elsah, Illinois, October 24, 2003

    5. Lisa S. Chiteji, Emeagwali and Sombo Nkwhazi
    An informal Q&A session followed Emeagwali's speech on reversing brain drain. [Principia College, Elsah, Illinois. October 24, 2003]

    6. Bente Morse Chats with Emeagwali
    Bente Morse, an emigrant from Denmark, was a Pan African Conference facilitator. [Principia Guest House, Principia College, Elsah, Illinois. October 26, 2003]



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    Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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    Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor