Sustainable Development: Tools for Growth

The World Summit on Sustainable Development is happening in South Africa, where crucial research is conducted on technologies for poorer countries. But the problem with initiatives like this is that they concentrate on individual technologies for health, agriculture and communications but seldom address the broader issue of technology itself.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 August 2002 4 minute READ

Bob Scholes

Fellow, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

Why is it that some nations are technology-rich, and others technology-poor? Why is it that despite genius being apparently universally distributed, some societies embrace technologies and rapidly adapt, enhance and re-export them, while in others they fizzle and die? Until we understand the answers to these questions, the gap between the developed and less developed worlds will continue to grow, because it is rooted in differences in their ability to turn technology to their advantage.

There has been much talk in recent years about the ‘digital divide’. There is indeed an enormous disparity in the use of computation, communication and information resources between the nations of the world, and within nations, between rich and poor. In an age where economic value is determined by the information content of goods and services rather than their material content, inability to access and process information is clearly a handicap.

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