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Insight & Analysis - December 30, 2021

4 Reasons Why Africa Continues to Lag Behind in Technology

In the past, African countries had a well-structured system suitable for the economy before colonialism.

Since the advent of colonialism, the Africa economy has become dependent on the developed countries for sustainability, which is evident even after the independence. This has, in turn, affected some African countries’ economic development in all sectors, including technology. This is the genesis of Africa continuous backward stance in technology.

In the past, African countries had a well-structured system suitable for the economy before colonialism. The three main tribes in Nigeria, for instance, have a prospering economy but all went buff in the air after the merging and forming of Nigeria.

African countries created local technologies to extract mineral resources from the subsoil, irrigate, grow, and store food through the power of invention. Africans also created some of the world’s artificial tools and wonders, such as the Pharaoh’s pyramids. Despite these glorious days, African countries are impoverished and ranked as the poorest in the world, according to World Population Review.

It is a fact that the level of technological advancement in a country is proportional to economic development, as this is apparent in developed countries compared to African countries.

Hence, there is a need to know why Africa is backwards in technology.

Colonialism

This is the scar of all African countries that did not fade even over time. Before colonialism, African countries had their way of life and commerce. From all indications, Africa had a rich and diverse technological base that could have served as the foundation for technological breakthroughs and the industrial revolution on the continent. Unfortunately, the effect of colonialism flushed it all down the drain.

Through competitive and pre-emptive tactics, the colonialists uprooted and displaced indigenous industries based on local and African technology. The goal was to ensure that African countries followed a growth pattern based on the colonialists’ needs. Africa, therefore, served as both a manufacturing base for the raw materials and a market for the products produced.

To control technological growth in African countries, the colonialists ensured that policies that did not promote scientific and technological development were put in place. Since they were privy to this importance, they ensured that the educational system was not tailored to drive technology.

Education

According to Desiderius Erasmus, “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”. Education is vital when impacted properly. The educational standard introduced by the colonialists to African countries differed from those instilled in Western countries. Education served as a tool to access the African economy, and the missionaries effected this.

The missionaries taught the hybrid version in schools, thereby dulling the Africans’ ability to think logically, scientifically and question the status quo. The colonialists introduced education to African countries through missionaries. However, this was done with the intent of having access to African’s resources and distorting their way of life.

The educational system was structured with policies that hindered the African countries from accessing academic knowledge to ensure African compliance. Also, there were limits and boundaries to books that African countries could access. This made the African countries more theoretical in their approach to learning rather than being more practical like other developed countries. The circle thus continues from one generation and to the 21st century.

To ensure this, the colonialists did not provide facilities and an environment in which technical and technological expertise could be acquired in Africa. For instance, science and technical education were discouraged in African schools, a legacy of colonialism evident in some African countries.

When Nigeria gained independence in 1960, it had 35 million people, only one University College (a satellite campus of the University of London) and four technical colleges with a student population of a few hundred.

In this 21st century, the educational systems in African countries are a world apart from their counterparts in developed countries. Most African graduates cannot apply the theories learnt in school to create cutting-edge technologies that will boost the country’s economic system.

Untapped skills

Owing to the educational value instilled in most African countries, there is no distinction between religion and innovative thinking. This makes Africans not have a creative and imaginative mind. In some African countries, more emphasis is placed on religious studies than science and creative ideas.

Also, there is no avenue for development and learning in most African countries. According to a study, people with scientific, engineering, and technical skills are found working full-time in a white-collar job, religious cleric, doing personal jobs, or engaging in commerce where the remuneration is high. This was common in Nigeria during the 1970s and 1980s and now in the 21st century.

Obsolete Government Policies

Another reason Africa is heavily dependent on the technology of other countries is due to outdated government policies. This is obvious in developed countries as the policies are continually updated, and the government is involved in financing and promoting innovative ideas. However, the contrary is the case in Africa.

African governments have enacted policies that are counter-productive to development and thus hindering technological growth. African countries have invested significantly less than the rest of the world in technology. Some developed countries went the extra mile of spending 2.6 % of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on science and technological research and innovation. On the other hand, African governments have invested lesser than expected, resulting in Africa falling behind in technology.

Promoting and encouraging Africa made technology goes a long way in boosting the economy rather than deriving pleasure in using and promoting foreign technology.

READ ALSO: Richard Odjardo: This African tech founder is making Smartwatches, laptops that will Rival Apple, Samsung Gadgets

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