Opinion and Analysis
Comesa should tap technology to grow
Posted Thursday, August 26 2010 at 00:00
Science, technology and innovation are quite important for any country or region in the modern knowledge based economy.
We live in an era where reliance on knowledge and information is seen as a prerequisite for growth and competitiveness — shifting away from traditional factors of production.
There is continuous creation, dissemination, and use of knowledge as a tool for competitiveness and economic growth.
This era has seen significant scientific and technical advances, particularly in biotechnology and information and communication technology (ICT).
Consequently, trade in high intensive knowledge goods and services has been growing fast globally.
Science and technology (S&T) if properly harnessed offers new opportunities for development in areas of importance for developing countries such as those in our region.
The question we need to ask ourselves is: have we done enough to utilise S&T for development?
Properly harnessing and using various platforms in S&T such as ICT can go a long way in providing solutions to some of the challenges people in our region face in areas of agricultural productivity and nutrition, education, health, energy, and environment among others.
S&T and innovation hold the promise to ultimately achieving Millennium Development Goals such as those relating to reduction of poverty and hunger and promoting public health through access to medicine, promoting universal education, and reducing maternal mortality.
Also, science and technology, including ICT, drives sustainable growth and development.
First, we need to foster a robust innovation-friendly policy framework.
This structure should comprise a clear, stable and well designed macro economic framework; enhanced human capital through “empowering our people to create and innovate”; and developing an effective and efficient intellectual property rights regime as a critical enabling tool for innovation.
Emphasis should be placed on fostering research and development through cooperation and collaboration within and outside the region.
Second, the need for financing the innovation process — financing will be necessary to encourage the development and utilisation of S&T.
Both public and private entities need to be encouraged to engage and sustain their research activities.