Kenya should introduce a nanotechnology curriculum to position the country as a "global player" in this emerging area of science and technology, write Macharia Waruingi and Jean Njoroge in Business Daily Africa.
Nanotechnology could potentially make a greater impact than biotechnology and information technology combined, with an estimated market value of US$1 trillion by 2015.
Africa is well placed to exploit the use of nanotechnology — possessing two-thirds of the world's biodiversity — and should respond to the opportunity of the global move towards bio-related products.
Nanotechnology could increase crop productivity, combat the environmental consequences of food production, and has the potential to aid rapid disease detection, the authors write.
To facilitate the development of nanotechnology and ensure global competitiveness, the Kenyan government — which has invested heavily in primary education — should also inject resources into higher education.
Waruingi and Njoroge warn that, as long as the technology to unlock Africa's biodiversity lies in developed nations' hands, these countries will continue to own monopoly patents on both newly-discovered and existing biodiversity in the developing world.
"It is about time for educational institutes, governmental organisations, and research and development institutes to step up and develop capacity for understanding the nanotechnology revolution," the authors write.