Episode 69: Does Africa have the right to blame brain drain?

Stop brain drain.” Illustration by theps.net.

Whenever African leaders are asked why the continent lags behind in terms of development, they blame braid drain — the exodus of its most intelligent people. But are they right, or are they to blame for frustrating young people so much that they have to go looking of a dignified life elsewhere?

Our guest is Joseph Makokha, an engineer who  studies and conducts research on engineering design with the goal of understanding how to design Artificial Intelligence to augments humans on thinking tasks. He is currently helping the Turkish Ministry of Education develop an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning curriculum for its schools. 

Makokha began his computer engineering work in Kenya in the late 1990s. During his university days, he engaged in entrepreneurship, running an electronics repair shop in Nairobi’s Buru Buru suburb, as well as an electronic parts shop in Butere, in his native western Kenya. After graduating, he launched some of the very first computer labs in rural high schools, away from affluent city schools. He purchased, installed, maintained, and even created the syllabus, then trained instructors for these schools — long before the education ministry developed a computer literacy curriculum.

Makokha moved to the United States in 2002, where he earned two master’s degrees in education while teaching in Bay Area public schools. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in engineering at Stanford University.