Knowledge as a Weapon for Sustainable Development in Africa


 Knowledge is a more powerful weapon in a nation's arsenal than any missile or mine’ Kofi Annan,Transcript of UN Secretary-General's Speech at UNU, Tokyo, 2005.


Being naked approaches being revolutionary” John Updike (American writer)


Dressed with their inherited cultures, mythologies and religions, many development analysts and policymakers may be somewhat blinded to the revolutionary structural transformations that are needed to meet key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as significant poverty reduction, and achieve a successful transition to sustainable development and to modernity on the African continent. Since conventional approaches to development have left many parts of the continent as deprived as they have ever been, and since the prospects of better days are mixed and bleak for half of the population, a new weapon is needed to initiate and accelerate these required revolutionary changes. Powerful new knowledge can be this ultimate strategic weapon.


As a weapon for sustainable development and for accessing modernity, modern knowledge evokes the idea of power, advantage, defence, struggle, rivalry, intelligence gathering, technology, conquest, annihilation, obliteration and demolition. Its target includes the inefficient knowledge bases that keep nearly half of Africans in need of international assistance as they are incapable of meeting their basic needs and key MDGs. Used defensively, it may be applied to the protection of African countries against the debilitating forces of globalization on endemic, traditional or local knowledge. Used offensively, it may target the upgrading of indigenous knowledge for producing goods and services that Africans demand.


In addition, modern knowledge may also target some non-enabling mythological faith-based knowledge that result from the colonization of large parts of Africa, which started centuries before the European colonization. It may target the construction of productive and competitive capacities to face a number of daunting contemporary challenges. These are clearly embodied in MDGs and in the sustainable development concept.


A weapon also evokes the idea of empowerment and social control over the generation, development, maintenance, distribution, concentration, monopolization, protection and utilization of modern knowledge.