Africa suffers a brain drain and the reason is simple: A lot of the continent’s young talented scientists would rather emigrate to the North to fully develop their research career and contribute significantly to addressing challenges that are outside of the African continent rather than remain on the continent and face career uncertainties. Personally, I recount how I got frustrated as a young returnee marine scientist to Ghana who had gone to train in one of the best marine research laboratories in the world, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in the United States of America. I always remembered the well-resourced laboratory of my PhD supervisor and how as a student I enjoyed using his facilities for research. Unfortunately, this was not the situation back home. I soon came to the realization that a successful career in ocean sciences in Ghana must be accompanied by opportunity hunt. I needed opportunities that would further strengthen my capacity, increase my visibility, and connect me to like-minded people. I understood that as an early career scientist, I desperately needed such an opportunity to progress to the next phase of my career. It was through my usual opportunities hunts that I came across the POGO call to train young marine scientists through the North South Atlantic (NoSoAT) Floating Summer School aboard one of the best research vessels in the world, the Polarstern. In fact, this call had all the three key elements I wanted in an opportunity, i.e capacity building, increase visibility and networking! It was a must that I participated in this summer school and so when I got the news that I was among the lucky 30 young scientists selected to participate in the NoSoAT summer school, I felt a major milestone of my career had been reached. NoSoAT made me a more confident oceanographer, open my eyes to several opportunities in oceanography, connected me to young and experienced marine scientists and more importantly put me on the globe. Through NoSoAT, I became a member of my first vibrant early career network NANO for which I am now the country coordinator of its global project on Deoxygenation, acidification, and productivity of the ocean. I also got the opportunity to participate in POGO’s OpenMOD project and afterwards, got my university to become registered as a POGO member institution. I have also been given a rare opportunity to serve as a trustee on the POGO Board and leading the POGO working group BIOTTA, that would build capacity in ocean acidification monitoring in the Gulf of Guinea.
Thanks to NoSoAT, I am an empowered woman ocean scientist right here on my continent of Africa. I have recommended POGO opportunities to many young marine scientists from Ghana and I would continue to do so every time I see such opportunities.