Young Scientists

Tantely Razafimbelo: "Once you are determined to come back, you must knock at every door"

Une chercheuse malgache partage son expérience de retour après des études en France

My name is Tantely Razafimbelo. I am from Antananarivo, a big city in Madagascar. I am a scientist and a university professor. Presently, I am the director of the Laboratory of Radioisotopes. It is a laboratory of the University of Antananarivo.

Why did you go to Europe for your PhD?

I went to Europe for my PhD because at that time, before I could begin a PhD I needed a « Diplôme d’études approfondies » (DEA), that would have taken 3 years in Madagascar. So, to go faster, I decided to go to France. Especially since there was no DEA in soil sciences at the University of Antananarivo at the time.

What was the biggest obstacle to come back to Madagascar?

After my PhD, I looked for an academic position in France, because I knew that finding a position in Madagascar would not be easy. Recruitment in universities and research centers had been blocked for a long time, and everybody knew that it was difficult to find an academic position there. I managed to get a position because I came back at the right time. The year I came back was 2006, the first year when there was a massive recruitment of academics at the university, because at last, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund allowed the government to recruit. As many candidates were waiting for more than 20 years, they were too old to apply, so I was among the youngest who got a position.

What would you tell young African PhD candidates working in Europe to encourage them to come back in Africa?

I would say that coming back is not so easy. You have to decide it. But once you are determined to come back, you can find opportunities if you look for them. You must not just wait for a position to come to you, you must knock at every door and explore all opportunities..

Interview by Luc Allemand

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