"Trading Places: Commerce Drives Science And Technology In Africa"
November 27, 2012
Author: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa
African countries have long aspired to transition from being raw material exporters to technology-based economies. But this vision has remained elusive.
For decades the continent believed that industrial development would be achieved through increased investment in research and development (R&D) along the paths pursued by industrialized countries. International consultants and United Nations reports bamboozled Africa into believing that allocating 1% of GDP to R&D would do the trick. But the 1%-of-GDP fetish is not just fundamentally flawed, it has also failed to win political support or show positive results.
Africa is embarking on a new path to technological innovation led by regional integration and organization. The approach seeks to focus on harnessing existing technologies and using them to create new enterprises that export to regional and international markets. This approach is being championed by the Zambia-based Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). With its 20 member states, COMESA has emerged as Africa's largest trading bloc, with a population of 400 million.
Over the past decade COMESA helped its 20 member states reduce trade barriers and increase trade flows....
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