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[NOTTINGHAM] "Africa lacks technology and it needs technology," said Yao-Martin Donani, a researcher at the University of Nottingham, which hosted the Science in Public Conference 2013 this week (22-23 July), where Donani was speaking.
 
Donani presented his research that tries to establish the causes of this poor technological development and pave the way out of it.
 
He is doing this by examining whether Ghana — and therefore, as he says, Africa — can increase its technology base, through a range of methods, including interviews with policymakers and business leaders.
 
Africa has its own technologies, but they have too often been left at a rudimental level, he said.
 
Many women in the shea butter sector, for example, use their hands rather than any technologies to turn local nuts into fashionable butter for international markets.  Yet, interviews with them reveal that they find it hard to do so and want technology to help them process the nuts and make more money from them.
 
Around 70 per cent of shea nuts are left to rot, he said, so industrialising the process would help improve productivity and earnings.
 
More generally, technology is needed to move Africa from being a provider of raw resources to processing these into higher-value goods.
 
The usual culprits for the lack of technology include a historical absence of modern governance institutions, he said.
 
But many governments now have science and technology policies and recognise and encourage science as a tool for development, he added.
 
Instead, Donani's research points to a dichotomy of governance between the traditional chiefdoms and modern governments, as well as countries' cultural heterogeneity, as the main reasons behind the poor industry take-up of science and research policies.
 
The emerging framework for Africa's technological development will have to bring the formal and traditional governance sectors together, while including prevailing cultures — in Ghana alone there are some 70 different languages spoken and therefore different cultures, he said.
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