Where Is Africa Among The 21st Century Innovators? By Yusuff Supoto
It is interesting seeing car flies –looking beyond the skies –traveling without a stress. We love to see these happen, and been imported to Africa in exchange for mineral resources and the poor man’s sweat. These, the innovative lords sell to the sleeping and carefree African countries. Watching technology advancement in other continents will not stop amazing us, because we fail to achieve a quarter of what they did. As inspiring as innovations are, I have no idea of any African Nation that is practically willing to imbibe these realities into Africa. Other than importing technologies from China, Germany, and United State of America, what technological impacts does Africa have on them, and even on her people? We are on the receiving end paying huge amount for ready-made ideas. Our economy keeps stagnating in return while theirs develop on daily basis.
An observer of economic germinations will not be surprised about the stagnant nature of Africa’s economy because it lacks dynamisms in areas of knowledge and innovations. In balancing economy, conscious countries are always after innovations and knowledge; these are the propeller of economy. Researchers have found links between technology innovation and economic prosperity. At least, it is appropriate to have something to offer overseas countries other than mineral resources and agricultural produce that Nigeria and her co-countries sell to their foreign counterpart. Upon selling mineral resources and Agricultural produce to them, they sell this back to us after it is refined, and in high price. Of course this happen because we lack technology capacity to refine.
Few years ago, authoritative opinions on crude oil envisaged the possible drop in its price, which will arguably have thunderous setback for Nigeria and other oil exporters. Today, the price of crude oil has dropped in the Market, to the extent that countries like Nigeria stagger due to the possible future failures. To pay workers’ salary may be difficult in years to come. This is because our policymakers did not spend wealth generated from crude oil on knowledge and innovations; education is not worth gold in their sight.
Although, I am not an economist, but I am confident economy is more serious an issue than been left in the hands of the economists alone. To a certain extent, economy grows when technology advancements become the goal of a nation. Most of African wealth comes from oil, agriculture, and other mineral resources, but this wealth will not continue to pump without innovations. The 21st century economic success is largely independent of natural resources, but on ideas marketable to other countries. The world technological powers have little or no oil, . They do not care about its future exploitation in their territory, but because they are optimistic oil-exporting country cannot do without them, they continue to develop in technology. After you sell your oil to them, they sell outstanding technology to you in return, which makes them have edges on the oil-diggers.
Importantly, knowledge driven economy is the ideology of technologically advanced territories. This gives prevalence to innovative ideas, which help the country germinates in every economic stratum. Inventions entice neighboring countries who are keen on exchanging discoveries. Before knowing, economy begins to shin with economic broth channeled to the country inform of exchange. Countries like China, Japan, Germany, US depends so much on this, since it gives a great reward in a short time. Conscious nations who have crude oil, do not wait until oil price drop, they use wealth accruing from crude oil to develop in innovation.
In the same vein, outright dependence on exported technology development would be a disservice in years to come. Countries with worthwhile technology will definitely have precedence over those who do not. When oil reaches it sinking point, what prowess will African countries have over other countries? Is it the mediaeval agricultural practice, which lacks technology improvement in all senses? We cannot deceive ourselves with an agricultural mechanism that still survives on much-required imported machines. When will we start proffering self-made solutions for our industrial needs, mechanized agriculture requirements, and even home appliances? World innovators sell most of their products to Africa. The information technology infrastructure is a good example. Africa import mobile phones on large scale, with nothing to offer in return. When we offer them something in return, our economy grows and technology transfer becomes meaningful.
Dishearteningly, are we going to continue without creating a podium for development of technology in good course? At this rate, 22nd century might possibly meet Africa antiquated. While other continents grow, let us not relax, and say, “Development will come.” It will not, because it needs a driving force.
Yusuff Olayode Supoto coordinates Engineering Africana.