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A new measure in the fight against brain drain in Africa is the joint project of UNESCO’s Education Sector and the computer company Hewlett-Packard (HP). It is tailored to provide some African universities with grid computing technology – hardware and software infrastructure which groups and integrates computer networks, databases and scientific instruments into a common virtual environment where users can collaborate. The first beneficiaries will be universities from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe and after the initial implementation phase of two years, the initiative might be extended to other African countries. The higher education institutions entitled to the project will be chosen by the Education Ministries of the involved countries together with UNESCO. Prioritised will be those university departments which have important information technology components.
The idea behind the project is to establish a connection between African researchers who have remained in their home countries and those who have left, enabling in this way also links with foreign colleagues, international scientific communities and funding organisations. Brain drain has been a serious problem for Africa in the last decades: its rate is estimated at 20 000 skilled academics, scientist and researchers per year who leave the continent. The new African project gives hopes for a success which a previous UNESCO-HP initiative against brain drain had in South Eastern Europe.