Brain Drain in Kenya

Over the last three decades, Kenya and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced rapid emigration to the developed world. Kenya is one of the African countries that has so much been affected by brain drain. This article gives an overview of brain drain in Kenya.

In Kenya, students move every year to go and study abroad but they never return back after attaining the appropriate education. They get jobs there and fail to return. Professions also move in search of jobs that pay well as compared to Kenyan jobs. More than a million Kenyan professionals live and work abroad, making the country one of the most heavily drained in Africa. Statistics released by the Government show that between 500,000 and 1.8 million Kenyans work overseas, although their skills are much needed locally (Siringi & Kimani, 2005).

Although more than 30,000 Kenyans leave for higher studies overseas, less than 9,000 of them return home on completing their learning. According to Kirui, (2005) when highly skilled people leave the country, or those who have acquired high skills do not return, it poses serious brain drain, robbing the country of essential human capacity to help in socio-economic development.

Statistics also show that 37,724 African students were enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States in 2001/2002. Some 18.8% of this students were Kenyan students. Of the 15,331 East African students from 19 countries enrolled during that same period (Kaba, 2005).

So many Kenyans have moved from their homeland to other countries. In fact, one can find Kenyans today in all parts of the developed world or rich nations, from Australia to Canada. As of 2001, there were 47,000 Kenyans in the United States, 20,600 in Canada, 15,000 in the United Kingdom, 6,900 in Australia, 5,200 in Germany and 1,300 in Sweden (Okoth, 2003).

The primary cause of Brain Drain in Kenya is the difference among countries in economic and professional opportunities, hence the imperative to move from one area to another to improve their social and economic status. Brain drain has a direct relationship to levels of education attained, and access to training and employment opportunities abroad.

Further Reading

Chu, J. (2004) How to Plug Europe’s Brain Drain, TIME, Retrieved 7th September, 2011 from

Siringi, S. (2001) Kenya government promises to increase doctor’s salaries to curb brain drain, The Lancet.