Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold
Chapter 24: Informal Governance of Emerging Technologies in Africa
Matthew Harsh INTRODUCTION In 2008 Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world, became the third country in subSaharan Africa to commercially grow a genetically modified (GM) crop (Bonkoungou 2008). This crop is cotton and the GM variety has been modified to be resistant to insect pests. Given that approximately 60 per cent of the Burkinabe people depend on cotton for their livelihood, the success of GM cotton has been linked to the viability of the national economy (Manson 2009). Meanwhile Kenya, a relatively well-off country compared to Burkina Faso, has a much longer history of research related to agricultural biotechnology and GM crops (Odame et al. 2003). GM crops have been in development stages since the 1990s in Kenya (Traynor and Macharia 2003). Current GM crops under development include cotton, and importantly, also food crops such as maize, sweet potato and cassava (Harsh 2005). Advocates of GM crops in Kenya argue that these crops will not only provide economic benefits to Kenya, but they will also provide food security for a nation that suffers from famine (Wambugu 2000). Despite these arguments and almost two full decades of research and development, Kenya still does not commercially grow any GM crops (Neondo 2010). Two observations about this comparison between Kenya and Burkina Faso are typical of the development of emerging technologies1 in Africa and show why analyses of these developments are important for this volume about governance. The first observation is that...
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