New Technological Order, the Knowledge Economy and Modernity


The world is going through a period of momentous, historical, accelerating and effervescent changes with unprecedented technological ebullition and development, giving rise to a new “technological order” and to what is commonly referred to as the “knowledge economy”.  There is a need to appreciate this new order and economy as well as what it means for sustainable development.  Stark inequalities between the most and the least technologically advanced nations imply that sustainable development cannot be universally approached the same way.  The proportion of the population living off the land in developing countries, for instance, is much larger than in technologically advanced countries.  What are the implications for sustainable development strategies?


New and emerging technologies are indeed changing the world forever and bringing new challenges, opportunities and threats.  There is an enormous and growing technological / digital divide between and among societies.  New technologies in the area of information and communication also have the potential, to some extent, of levelling the playing field (digital bridge). They are creating new ways to access knowledge and to do business.  There are trillions of dollars of business opportunities in the application of these new technologies and knowledge.


Adapting to these changing times and seizing these new opportunities represent daunting challenges that raise some critical questions.  How can Africa benefit from the new technological wave, which is affecting every aspect of our lives?  How can Africa cope with scientific advances and technological innovations and avoid being marginalized on the world scene?  How to profit from globalization and regionalization?  Can new developments in science and technology help in meeting basic needs, such as food security?  Can these new developments foster economic prosperity, social progress and sustainable development?


There is a need to cultivate an appreciation of the key role of emerging new technologies and their consequences for the achievement of sustainable development and the attainment of modernity.  It is particularly the role of science and technology policies to shed light on these new technological developments. These policies must alert governmental authorities and the population as to their potential impacts on the sustainability of African livelihoods.