Knowledge as a Sustainable Resource for African Development

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A perspective on knowledge as a sustainable resource for development has not been formulated yet. In the final analysis, knowledge is an intimate communion with the essence of reality and a capacity to transform this reality for development. In this perspective, efficient scientific and technical knowledge is required for:

 

  • grasping and changing this reality;
  • natural environments to be conserved, protected and rehabilitated;
  • constructing artificial environments, such as electronic, institutional, social, economic, cultural and political environments.

 

For instance, political environments require full universal access to relevant knowledge for making sound political choices and meaningful, participative and democratic governance. Cultural environments require the full utilization of all talents and available knowledge and a diversity of knowledge. Economic environments require full access to knowledge to make rational economic choices. These environments must be organized according to the principles of sustainability, which can become the central organizing principles of African Knowledge Societies.

 

This means organizing development knowledge, as much as possible, as an inherited universal and accessible public good. This is the challenge of the accessibility and sustainability of knowledge for development. Meeting this challenge will contribute to social justice and equal opportunity to access and use of knowledge. Unrestricted and fair access to development knowledge is a principle coherent with knowledge as a common human heritage and the property of humanity. At least three kinds of knowledge should be made universally accessible: humanitarian or assistance, royalty free and tax-funded. Protected and private knowledge is a momentary and transitory phenomenon and an exception to the rule.

 

The accessibility, sustainability and integrity of scientific and technical knowledge has to be a concern since it can be monopolized, controlled, altered, sullied, devalued, corrupted and ruined in many ways. Embodied in peoples it is biodegradable; may be easily lost; and may lead to intergenerational discontinuities and development failures. Embedded in institutions, it may be contaminated, altered, distorted, misused, misplaced, stolen, etc. And incorporated in culture, it may vanish. Hence, the sustainability of knowledge is a fundamental challenge.

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