Ibrahima Gueye has it all: A top executive job with a future. A two-story, four-bath deluxe home. Servants to cook his food, clean his house and wash his clothes. A live-in nanny for his children.

But not in Europe or the United States -- in Africa.

Like a large number of African expatriate returnees, the 38-year-old financial analyst has given up his lucrative job in Europe, deciding West isn't necessarily best -- and the quality of life is at home.

"People just don't realize that though you make a lot of money living in the West, you don't even enjoy all that cash," said Gueye, recalling how he spent most of his free time in France, where he lived for 14 years, working around the house and grocery shopping.

Hundreds of thousands of educated Africans have left the continent to escape poverty and high unemployment, and millions more yearn to.

But some are also moving in the opposite direction, attracted by lower costs of living, the desire to be close to family and the chance to take on more senior positions than they'd likely get abroad.

As head of the finance department of an oil and gas refinery company in Senegal's capital, Dakar, Gueye makes a salary equivalent to what he made in Paris as a senior accountant.

"Basically, I have my life back," said Gueye, barking orders over the phone in his air-conditioned office.

"Now, I can spend the weekend at the beach with my family," he said. "Cooking is definitely a thing of the past."

According to the International Organization for Migration, 250,000 African professionals work in Europe and North America. UNESCO says at least 30,000 Africans abroad hold doctorates.

The exodus is part of a worldwide "brain drain" in which trained workers flee poor countries for wealthier ones, leaving deficits of doctors, lawyers and other professionals back home.

Statistics on the number of educated Africans heading back to Africa are hard to come by. In Senegal, no organization keeps track, but hundreds have returned in recent years, said Pape Madike Diop, who heads a job recruitment agency.

African nations have tried to woo expatriate nationals with patriotic calls to help rebuild shattered economies, but it's a hard sell.

About 300 million of Africa's 880 million people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than a dollar a day. They have no access to clean water, adequate sanitation, health care or a decent education.

In Senegal, a relatively prosperous and peaceful country in war-ravaged West Africa, the unemployment rate is about 48 percent.

Some Africans overseas recognize the difficulties. Concerned about brain drain, they're trying to encourage other Africans to return by helping them find jobs back home.

The Britain-based nonprofit organization AfricaRecruit, founded in 1999 by a group of expatriates from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Ghana, has helped more than 200 African professionals relocate to the continent, the organization's chief executive, Lola Banjoko, said from London.

On AfricaRecruit's Web site, skilled Africans abroad can register on a database, search for jobs and consult a list of potential employers in Africa.

Doudou Ka, a Senegalese who once worked in France as a consultant for Deloitte & Touche, said that "it was never a question of if, but finding the right time to return."

Ka was among 25 foreigners who graduated from France's Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees -- the national engineering school -- along with 105 French students he believes had an advantage in the French job market.

Competing with Senegalese on his home turf instead would give him the advantage, Ka said.

Returning last year, he got a job as a financial engineer at a bank in Dakar, a senior management post with an internationally competitive salary.

"My ambition had always been to be at the top, not just be a simple engineer," he said.

An added benefit was more living space. Ka lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Dakar that costs the same as his one-bedroom apartment in Paris.

After long days in the office, he and his wife now walk into an apartment tidied by a maid who washes, irons and folds their clothes.

Not all returnees have success stories.

Ndiaye, a Senegalese who graduated from a university in southern France, returned two years ago hoping for a good job. She got one working at a telecommunications company, but the pay was less than desirable.

"I thought it was a joke when I saw my paycheck," said Ndiaye, who declined to give her last name because she didn't want her remarks to get back to her employer. "I even wondered if they had forgotten a zero."

Ndiaye says there are simply not enough opportunities for people in her field in Senegal. She hopes to return to France, where "they appreciate and value my skills and degree."

By contrast, Ka said he would never work outside the continent again.

It is "out of the question," he said. "The future is here in Africa."

Ibrahima Gueye, a financial analyst for the African Refinery Co. in Senegal, returned home after 14 years in France.