A Scientific and Technological Regime for Transiting toward Modernity


Science and technology have become pervasive in all sectors of human endeavour. They shape the way we produce food, we dress, we travel, we learn, we work, the way we communicate and make war. In the last century alone, science and technology generated more knowledge than in all the epochs of human existence put together. It is said that 90 % of all scientists that have ever existed are alive today. Hundreds of millions of people have benefited from the fruits of  modern knowledge and technology through enhanced health, education, life expectancy, reduced maternal mortality, labour saving, and entertainment.


Scientific advances and technological innovations are accelerating and the line between science and science fiction is becoming blurred. In the 20th century humans were intelligent observers of nature while in the 21st century humans are changing nature. In the 20th century, humans depended on natural resources for wealth. In the 21st century, they create wealth by mastering advances in STI.


The quantum leaps of the 20th century will accelerate more rapidly in our own time. New discoveries (science), and their applications (technology), are going to drive agriculture, medicine, income growth, and new materials in ways that can barely be imagined. Fearless forecasts predict that by 2020 we'll have computers that we can wear, cars that can see, precision agriculture, health implants, and bionics. The creation and manipulation of intelligence on demand may become possible.


The awesome ability to repair and manipulate life will probably increase dramatically. Crops that produce greater yields have been developed which resist pests and diseases while offering positive nutritional, health, and environmental attributes. In the 20th century, ways to curtail mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and to slow down the virus with anti-retroviral drugs have been found. It is not unrealistic to expect that a potent vaccine could soon be developed against HIV and other diseases, which undermine Africa’s human capital.


There is also a need to attach special importance to innovation in the area of Green Revolution technologies, including GM seed technology, irrigation technology, biofertilizer and biopesticide technology, storage technology, food processing and packaging technology and a host of other supporting technologies. Sustainable development, MDGs and Moderntiy in Africa cannot be achieved without realizing a Green Revolution.  New biotechnological development must also contribute to improving animal breeding and animal health. 


Africa needs leadership, democratization and subvertive rationalization in order to graduate into a modern technological regime. All stakeholders must be involved in both policy formulation and implementation if Africa is going to truly mobilize science and technology for developing and for accessing Modernity. Stakeholders participation is essential to avoid academic and elitist policies and to define and strengthen the role of public institutions, international partners, universities, NGOs, women organizations, civil society and the private sector. It is a way to ensure that policies are tailored primarily with a view to meeting the specific needs of end-users and clients.