Dr. Iweriebor defends his position:
In the context of this dialogue only outlines of views and ideas on the various
issues discussed can be presented. Any detailed proposals or strategies can
be presented in a book, memorandum or article. Any one interested in my
detailed blueprint for such technological development should see my recently
published book, NIGERIAN TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT SINCE INDEPENDENCE,(Ibadan:
Book Builders, 2004). The last chapter provides a detailed and systematic
outline of all aspects of a strategy of technological transformation in Nigeria
which with appropriate modification is applicable to other African
countries.It should be clear that even without explicitly saying so that my
proposal for the development of a technological infrastructure would entail
the the provision of a solid education system especially in the science and
Development in any form, whether technological, political, economic or social is
about identifying and transcending the challenges of the present to reach a
desired state. Therefore struggle is in its essence. On the other hand,
non-development or the inability to activate a people or a society's
development derives partly from the fabrication and emplacement of obstacles on
the possibility of self-transformation ab initio.
The conditions for transformative development are often created in the
context of the struggles for development. Therefore to require that all
conditions such as property rights, guarantee of profits and policy stability,
should be right before embarking on the process of the development suggests an
unwillingness of the understand development as overcoming challenge and creating
the desired end.
In capitalist conceptions of human economic and even non-economic interactions
profit is king, but development of a society and its technological
self-equipment cannot be reduced to the single criterion of profitability. It is
my recognition of the cost and non-profit yielding gestation period of
technological development that made me suggest a public-private sector
partnership with the public paying for the broader, long-term foundations of
development by investment in basic transformative industries. The cautious and
short-term profit motivated African businesses people can then invest in areas
that would yield assured and steady profits.
The representation of import substitution industrialization as having failed
because of protection and subsidies is misleading and merely recycles stock
World Bank and other Western allegations about African governments alleged
misdeeds. The point should be underscored that majority of the industrial
firms in Africa after independence for at least the first 30-40 years were
foreign multinationals allegedly engaged in import substitution manufacturing.
But as I pointed out earlier, in fact they did nothing of the that sort. They
continued and continue to import all inputs for their manufacturing activities
with no efforts to substitute locally available human, technical and raw
material resources unless compelled to do so by the state.
In the process of fostering African domestic technological development, policies
will be devised to address the specific needs of each country and circumstance.
If subsidies are required they would used.
It should be clear that my interest is in advancing ideas on technology
development, that is the systematic acquisition and domestication of human
resources, engineering design capacity and machinery and equipment production as
a basis for self-actuated and regenerative development. Such a perspective and
project entails an empowering self-conception by a people. "Technology transfer"
as used in relation to Africa is a disempowering dogma. It is also only one
method of method of technology acquisition which has been privileged by the
Western institutions and advocates to empower themselves and construct formerly
colonized peoples especially Africans as inherently incapable
who need external activation acquire technological capacity for development. I
do not subscribe to this view, fashionable, powerful and pervasive as it is.
Africa's self-development requires as a priamary condition identifying and
transcending all externally fabricated and internally believed disempowering
dogmas and fetishes of African incapacity.
All those who cite the South Korean example need to be reminded that that
country in the early 1970s identified a number of critical technology
development areas as national development priorities for sytematic investment
and all round promotion. These included the manufacture of general industrial
machinery and equipment; electrical machinery, electronic machinery,
ship-building, chemicals and the metallurgical industries. The South Korean
state fostered domestic public and private enterprises in these areas to equip
itself with the technological infrastructure for self-development. This was the
ideological environment of domestic technological self-direction into which
foreign investors came and were compelled to invest on terms determined by the
ideologically clear-headed and nationalist leadership of South Korea then. The
attempt to ascribe South Korea's technology development to technology transfer
of foreign investors derives partly from the habitual practice of
self-aggrandizement common in Western encounters with others in which it
positions and projects itself as the source of civilization, advancement and
modernity. But as should be clear from the consumer durable goods that we see in
the global market place, South Korean goods are domestic products like Samsung,
LG, Daewoo and others. In short, these are indubitably South Korean products
produced largely by South Korean domesticated technology.
The ideological inspiration for involvement in the quest for Africa's
transformation and renaissance may be altruistic, but the practical objective
is to create a situation in which material abundance is produced and equitably
distributed in Africa through African efforts. Every sector has its motives and
benefits of the thesis process. In other words, investors should expect to make
massive profits from an Africa in which transformative development supported by
the state investments generates high incomes and prosperity. Profits will be
guaranteed not by the state but the by the local capitalists commitment to
mass production of goods and local prosperity . But national and
continental development cannot be promoted solely and merely for the sake of
profit. There are values and ends of human life that are more important and
enduring than private and personal profit. These include a people's dignity,
confidence, pride, freedom, equity and social justice derived from their
mastery of development and their emergence as equals in the world with
subordination to none. That is the altruistic basis of the quest for Africa's
transformation and social prosperity.
Departmentof African and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies,
Hunter College, CUNY,
New York, NY, 10021