Africa Must Build “Mines of Knowledge” Over Those of Minerals – My Brown University Talk

It has been a while now since I posted in Tekedia, directly. I am very confident that our team is engaging our readers.


Yesterday, a friend sent me a summary of a talk I gave at Brown University late last year. I spoke on the topic: Redesign of Nations. I made a case that technology will triumph always and algorithms will rule all nations. While we see Facebook in its colors of blue and white, what drives that site is systematic relationships Mark and his team have concatenated together. Remove those algorithms, the Facebook experience will be gone. They hire the best Wants – mathematics geniuses – and they quantify our behaviors just as Quants try to make sense of our markets in Wall Street. It is a new field – Quantitative Psychology. The goal? Understand human patterns and make money of our it through ads.


So, Knowledge will rule and that is what matters in our age. It is not important that you have minerals because minerals in essence is not wealth until you have knowledge to extract it. Visit many villages in Chad, they have problems of good drinking water, yet, underneath where they live, science has shown enough water to keep them going. But because they lack the knowledge, that water is not accessible.


In my native Nigeria, if the big oil companies depart today, we may cease to become an exporter of crude oil. The oil will still be there, but we cannot extract it. The reason being that we have not developed the technology or capacity to mine and extract it. So, while Japan may not have minerals like most nations, they create specialized knowledge that help people mine their minerals. At the end, they get better share of the natural resources through fees, licensing, sales of tools and technologies.


Personally, I think  Shell gets better bargain than the Niger Deltans in the oil industry in Nigeria. They have the knowledge while the natives have the oil. But to make the oil have value, Shell is needed. Then they stake their terms.


Back to Brown University, someone sent me this as the summary of my talk.

The future of Africa will be secured by building mines of knowledge. Technology and IPR will always triumph over minerals and hydrocarbons. Africa must find ways to have a technology roadmap.


ABWxD ’10 – Ndubuisi Ekekwe from ABetterWorldByDesign on Vimeo.



I think he summarized it well – I want Africa to begin the process of building mines of knowledge by creating good schools and knowledge firms. Until we do that, the vicious cycle of poverty will not end.


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