Essential Technologies for Uncovering Modernity in Africa


"Work is the Medicine for Poverty"  Yoruba Proverb



Relying on providence, prayers, superstitions, failed ideologies and the good spirits doesn't lead to development and modernity.


Modernity is essentially characterized by modern technology and modern (secular) worldviews, which may be the measure of what a progressive region could look like and of how it could possibly be engineered through a Renaissance.  ‘A Renaissance is a rebirth of ideas’ (Philip Emeagwali). In this spirit, it might be useful to apply a rebirth of ideas to ourselves and to try to re-conceptualize fundamental categories of technology (defined in here as the sum of rational means) in relation to the pursuit of the lofty goals of a technologically enamoured and driven region.


Technologies are usually categorized according to time (stone-age tech), technical disciplines (water tech), economic sectors (mining tech), ‘genus’ (bio, info, nano) or other defining characteristics, such as appropriateness, complexity, origin, ownership, materiality, transferability, adaptability, etc. Other taxonomies may also be useful for providing additional perspectives and more fundamental insights into the issues related to an African renewal and revival through STI.


In this regard, the following taxonomy or framework which is constituted of seven different categories of techniques or technologies may perhaps be useful given the particular African situation and the sheer enormity of the challenges that must be met.  Indeed, modernity cannot be achieved without a thorough reform of the Technological Code, which cannot be achieved with traditional or even new technologies, but which may necessitate entirely new ‘new’ technologies, whose assemblage may constitute a meta-technology for a modernizing Africa.  The categories of technologies for transiting toward modernity are as follow:


(1) Technology of Self,


(2) Technology of Freedom,


(3) Technology of Signs,


(4) Technology of Creativity,


(5) Technology of Change,


(6) Technology of Power,


(7) Technology of Truth.



These technologies are very important for


  • uncovering modernity, such as those for directing or guiding the ‘rebirth’ of the self, or for cultivating the ‘reborn’ Afro-self as a more modern self;
  • enlarging, fostering and protecting the freedom necessary for the success of the huge socio-cultural transformations required to overcome levels of poverty, hunger and diseases incompatible with modernity;
  • evolving effective technological codes, symbols, meanings or signs, such as those of a generous and mobilizing vision of a new Africa;
  • inventing, discovering, designing, manufacturing material artefacts, including particularly industrial and agricultural, necessary for a prosperous region;
  • creating, inventing or innovating in processes of change, including technologically-induced socio-cultural change;
  • controlling, exerting or reordering power configurations that are necessary for a transformed continent; and
  • uncovering, producing or reconstructing truth – an essential technology in a sea of half-truths, self-delusions, clichés, prejudices, etc, - and an important constitutive element of modernity.

ICTs, as the most powerful cross-cutting technologies, can be instrumental in supporting, fostering, nurturing and sustaining a variety of these processes towards modernity.