Technology Development and Technology Systems in Africa
Chapter 1: Competitiveness and National Technology Systems: An Introduction
3615_Failing2Compete/Chapter 1 16/9/02 11:59 am Page 1 1. Competitiveness and national technology systems: an introduction This book analyses national technology systems supporting manufacturing in five African economies: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe. The first reaction of many readers is likely to be as follows. ‘Why look at industrial technology systems in Africa? Surely industrial development at this level does not need a “technology system”? And, given the rather parlous state of manufacturing in these countries, doesn’t technological effort take fairly low priority?’ The contention here is that ‘technology’ is vital to industrialization at all levels. This has always been so - but the new technological and competitive environment makes it even more important, and in many ways more difficult, to build the local capabilities needed. Technology ‘systems’ (the term is defined below) are vital to building industrial capabilities at the enterprise level - and such systems are extremely weak and fragile in most African countries. What is worse is that they are neglected and so are increasingly lagging behind technology systems in competing countries. The structural base of African industrial development is thus being weakened, and this should be an important consideration for development strategy in the region. The analysis seeks to illustrate the technology situation in African countries at different levels of industrialization. It draws upon fieldwork done in a fairly short period in each country. It cannot, therefore, provide detailed institutional analysis - the intention is more to describe the ‘technology system’ in broad...
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