By Adebola Daramola
She celebrated her 33th birthday on July 25, 2011. She is married with her kids born without assisted reproductive technology. Who am I referring to? She is Louise Joy Brown. Her birth was a product of knowledge, attributable to the works of Prof Edward Roberts; the Embryologist who achieved the world’s first InVitro-Fertization and won the Nobel Prize for Physiology & Medicine in July 2010. This knowledge has diffused across the world helping to bring hope to many previously labeled barren.
The final landing of the space shuttle Atlantis on July 21, 2011 confirmed the leadership of the American as expressed in the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index. Developed economies could pursue space exploration only because they have developed and raised scientific and technical workforce who could undertake research that push further the frontiers of knowledge about space. The applications of this knowledge have find expression in many spin-offs, attributable to the level of education and continuous thirst to find relevance for the enormous investment in space research.
The walls around geographical borders of nations have come crumbling down. Free trade, globalization and mobility of labor have aided the spread and ease of adoption of new technologies. Nations cannot afford to be oblivious of what is happening around, just as individuals, institutions and government. A problems shared is a problem solved. This has led to solutions for unimaginable human challenges and ailments or conditions. Yet, adaption or adoption of these solutions to the peculiar nature of the developing nations is faltering. We are slow in seizing opportunities. The structures to support the diffusion of knowledge are weak and archaic. We need to change our model.
Prof Calestous Juma, Director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, in an earlier interview with SciDev.Net argues that with a mix of existing knowledge and innovation, Africa could be led out of poverty and hunger. How much I agree. With the level of natural resources at our disposal, we have no reason to dwell in squalor. With the right leadership, effective utilization of knowledge in all areas of life with few changes attune to our circumstances, this will be sufficient to take us to a high-tech status.
We need a new generation of leaders who will be innovative in creating the structure to diffuse knowledge. Our rigidity has left us far behind our colonial masters. As a matter of urgency, we need to enable our institutions (this is not limited to HEIs) to identify actors (individuals and organizations) and foster networks of creating knowledge. In that way, we will be able to move our economies from its rudimentary nature to higher ground, making lives better for us all as citizens.