Issues in Knowledge Policies for a Modernizing Africa


There are at least eight sets of issues related to the formulation of innovative policies  in the area of knowledge systems for moving the African region forward.


The first set of issues relate to the hyper-complex concepts of knowledge as they pertain to sustainable development and modernity. These issues revolve around new ways for the theorization, appreciation and evaluation of knowledge and its sustainability as a resource. They confront the essence, the core, the mainstay and the ideology of sustainable development and modernity in Africa.


The relation of mythological knowledge with the environment (eco-socio) needs to be explored; and its impacts need to be assessed. Some issues relate to the power of knowledge creation, to a new knowledge paradigm (knowledge ecologization), to a meta-paradigm of sustainable development (sustainabilism), to complementary approaches to knowledge modelling and to the nature of knowledge representation in African Knowledge Societies (AKSs).


The second set of issues relate to knowledge evolution and adaptation as well as the long-drawn-out, makeshift and wavering transition to meeting MDGs and accessing modernity. They emphasize the crucial role of scientific, technological and technical knowledge, which can provide a hope and a boost for sustainable development and which must become an obsession for the acceleration of this transition. Science, technology and innovation is a ‘passage obligé’ to sustainable development and radical changes are needed to transform traditional African societies into more aggressive and modern economies on the global scene.


The third set of issues relate to knowledge innovation, circulation, migration, acquisition, repatriation, utilization, prospection, devaluation and proliferation. They relate to the strengths and weaknesses of AKSs, emerging opportunities, drained knowledge, intelligence knowledge, knowledge flows and asymmetries, competitive knowledge, the global knowledge race and the emerging knowledge mega-wave. They also relate to the lopsided globalization of knowledge, knowledge competition and the globalization of sustainable development in an unequal and unjust world.


The fourth set of issues relate to the integration of compartmented layers of knowledge, the fragmentation of knowledge bases, knowledge ghettos and their integration through knowledge institutions, associations, academies, forums, portals, media, networks and centers. They relate to knowledge under-production and generation through research activities and knowledge dispersion and erosion through unused, under-used and under-exploited knowledge caused by high unemployment of knowledge workers, especially young graduates. Here, the issues raised by the privatization of knowledge are also important.


The fifth set of issues relate to knowledge constellation, clustering, designs, linkages and packaging, including a knowledge package to achieve the African Green Revolution (AGR) – a scientific and technological achievement and a sine qua non condition of sustainable development. They underline the need to embrace new promising modern scientific and technical knowledge and upgrade traditional knowledge with more powerful scientific and technical knowledge.


Mytho-religious knowledge, particularly evangelical and qur’anic knowledge, which plays a dominant role in hypnotizing, mesmerizing, infantilizing, enslaving and domesticating the over-religious African societies, constitutes the sixth set of issues. The values underpinning this knowledge need to be analyzed in relation to their contribution (or non-contribution) to sustainable development. They stress the need to demythologize / re-mythologize common, ordinary and trivial knowledge. This calls for a de-deification, demystification, de-prophetization, de-fetishization and desacraslization of African knowledge as well as the necessity to evolve a scientific culture.


The seventh set of issues relate to other fundamental determinants of sustainable development and new avenues for knowledge emancipation and liberation that can power Africa towards modernity. Neglected development issues should be explored and various policy directions regarding all types of ‘soft’ or ‘gaseous’ knowledge could be proposed. The need to evolve revolutionary knowledge, free of ineffective mythologies, should be stressed.


The eighth set of issues relate to thermo-dynamizing knowledge (hot, bubbling knowledge culture) and to the special role and responsibility of knowledge elites, leaders, champions and lovers in bringing about a culture of freedom, enabling environments and scientific mentalities for a complete decolonization of knowledge and innovative changes. They relate to policy orientations, knowledge futures and horizons for a new knowledge adventure that can help bring about the drastic transformations that are necessary to achieve a real transition to sustainable development and modernity on the African continent.