Africa's technology futures: three scenarios
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Technology has critical impacts on the future of nations and regions around the globe, and it can be especially important in developing countries by enabling increased efficiencies and rapid development. This paper uses a scenario planning approach to explore two questions about Sub-Saharan Africa: 1) Can this region be effective at creating, owning, developing, and harnessing homegrown technology, and 2) can it successfully adapt non-African technologies into innovation cycles? The situation today is discussed as a baseline, and the risks of assuming that Africa will take the same trajectory to technological sophistication as the West are noted. Three feasible technology futures are presented and discussed: “Use, don’t own”; “Pockets of innovation”; and “Leapfrogging.” This paper is part of the Africa 2060 Project, a Pardee Center program of research, publications, and symposia exploring African futures in various aspects related to development on continental and regional scales. Dirk Swart is a graduate of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and was a Pardee Visiting Graduate Fellow in 2008-2009. He currently works as the Assistant Director of IT for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and is the founder of Wicked Device, an embedded systems laboratory. This paper is part of the Africa 2060 Project, a Pardee Center program of research, publications, and symposia exploring African futures in various aspects related to development on continental and regional scales. For more information, visit www-staging.bu.edu/pardee/research/.
This repository item contains a single issue of The Pardee Papers, a series papers that began publishing in 2008 by the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. The Pardee Papers series features working papers by Pardee Center Fellows and other invited authors. Papers in this series explore current and future challenges by anticipating the pathways to human progress, human development, and human well-being. This series includes papers on a wide range of topics, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives and a development orientation.