Somewhere in the middle of a mellow evening snack earlier today an argument flared up (intellectual flare as opposed to vodka-shots flare) over what reason a Ugandan would have to go back home and set up his own company rather than work many more years for a well-paying multi-national.
My Ukranian and Brazilian companions found my position to be weak. Quite simply, I have started a drive for all members of developing countries who wish to see development take place back home to actively take steps to make it happen rather than keep talking about it.
And I’m not talking about taking over political power because that solution has been proven ineffective and short-term (ironically because the tenure tends to become long-term).
Working in developed economies or for companies whose principals are all based in developed economies develops those economies even further, and indirectly contributes to the slowed development of developing economies. The big multi-nationals who employ the best brains in developing economies pay us well in order for us to exert our energies towards maximising profits for the shareholders, and the non-corporates who engage in menial tasks for higher pay and a “better lifestyle” are simply filling a gap that allows the developed economies to focus on higher tasks.
While we do this, we may (or may not) contribute to development back home by depositing our salaries or wages in banks at home and injecting our disposable income into our home economies in various other ways but this is deceitful. In absolute terms, our contributions would be much greater if we exerted our energies into turning our economies around altogether. Some of these great brains of ours, for example, should be deployed in government service and others into building local companies into highly profitable enterprises without the elusive Foreign Direct Investments that countries so eagerly seek. If we applied the skills, talents and knowledge developed and picked up in the employment of the multi-nationals that keep us in salaries and impending gratuity to building up the little companies that exist in various forms at home, there should surely be some beneficial change that will have a greater multiplier effect on the economy than the combined banked salaries of ‘corporates’.
There is not much new in this, so to dwell on it would at best attract accusations of recycling the thoughts of the Kwame Nkrumah’s and Walter Rodney’s of times past, and at worst induce somnambulance.
What is new is the personal decisions that will follow this and how many other people will take the same steps.
Che (nickname picked from the usual suspect) is a medical doctor working in Uganda who absolutely hates his job because his principals are Western doctors whose skills and knowledge are not significantly higher than his but…there you go. Let’s see what decisions he makes as these discussions continue.