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IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

INTRODUCTION There is a lively debate on the link between science and technology and economic development. One view is that Athere is no theory of research, invention, innovation and diffusion that meshes well with existing (economic) models. Hence, carefully testing the role of technology in economic growth is methodologically problematic. This view further contends that the direction of the science and technology link to economic growth is difficult to specify although growth correlates well with the growth of capital per worker and the expansion of skills. The second view is that science and technology generate innovations. Continuous innovation (technological, organisational, managerial) generated by learning entities have been shown to be responsible not only for productivity increases, but also for dynamic competitive advantage of firms, industries and nations in the unfolding global economy. Economic development is seen as the result of this dynamic process. According to this second view, the innovation process is nonlinear, multidirectional and is central to a complexity of factors which are each necessary but alone insufficient to bring about development. When innovation is missing from the development process, development becomes unsustainable in the long run. Because innovation has many sources, research and development expenditure (which has always been the focus of those attempting to measure the contribution of S & T to development) is only a small tip of the innovation iceberg. Failure to recognise this fact may be responsible for the inconclusive results obtained from cross - country regression models which find a positive but statistically insignificant relationship between R & D expenditure and economic growth. The second view is based on certain empirical facts that: economic development is a long - term process, and innovative activities have varying periods, and change is not instantaneous; the innovation process is characterized by uncertainty, risks and unpredictable outcomes; the change process is not always linear, nor unidirectional; and the behaviour of change agents (firms, farmers, individuals) is embedded in their history, organisational practices; strategies, and particular objectives; so that the same market signals can be interpreted differently by different change agents.This second view ascribes much of the phenomenal rate of economic growth shown by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Singapore and a host of countries in Latin America, to their harnessing the fruits of science and technology. This is not to deny the absence of exact measures of the contribution of science and technology to this growth. More importantly, international competitiveness in increasingly

being defined in terms of agility to access, learn, adapt, utilize and innovate from available technology. Firms or nations that fail to innovate lose their competitive position.

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WHY FUNDAMENTAL SCIENCE IS NECESSARY FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT? . A number of examples from the past are given where a discovery in fundamental science has led to a major economic development. Even the industrial revolution of the 17th century had its origin in basic science. Funding basic science should be the responsibility of the Government and not that of an individual or a group. The benefits of basic science are long-term and unpredictable, so in general one cannot expect a return in the short-term. Our lives are enriched, and our outlook changed, by knowledge of the heliocentric system, the genetic code, how the sun works, why the sky is blue, and the expansion of the Universe. The point was elegantly, if arrogantly, made by Bob Wilson (first Director of Fermilab, a large particle physics/accelerator laboratory near Chicago) who, when asked by a Congressional Committee "What will your lab contribute to the defense of the US? replied "Nothing, but it will make it worth defending". A number of scientists would like to defend the basic sciences without any practical applications, at least in the beginning; and this is a very ancient phenomenon, as shown by the following dialogue in Plato's Republic: Socrates: Shall we set down astronomy among the subjects of study? Glaucon: I think so, to know something about the seasons, the months and the years are of use for military purposes, as well as for agriculture and for navigation. Socrates: It amuses me to see how afraid you are, lest the people should accuse you of recommending useless studies. Search for fundamental knowledge, motivated by curiosity, is as useful as the search for solutions to specific problems. The reason we have practical computers today, and did not have them 100 years ago, is not that meanwhile we have discovered the need for computers. It is because of discoveries in fundamental physics, which underwrite modern electronics, developments in mathematical logic, and the need of nuclear physicists in the 1930s to develop ways of counting particles. I shall cite many examples, which demonstrate the practical and economic importance of fundamental research. But if fundamental, curiosity-driven, research is economically important, why should it be supported from public, rather than private, funds? The reason is that there are certain kinds of science, which yield benefits that are general, rather than specific to individual products, and hence generate economic returns which cannot be captured by any single company or entrepreneur. People or organizations that have no commercial interest in the results consequently fund most pure research, and the continuation of this kind of funding is essential for further advance.

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THE POSSIBILITY OF DISCOVERIES OF ENORMOUS ECONOMIC AND PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE BY HAVING EXPENDITURE ON BASIC SCIENCE It is not hard to show that expenditure on basic science often leads to discoveries of enormous economic and practical importance, is highly profitable, and has easily paid for itself. Casimir, the renowned theoretical physicist, and one-time Research Director of Philips, has given a splendid list of examples: "I have heard statements that the role of academic research in innovation is slight. It is about the most blatant piece of nonsense it has been my fortune to stumble upon. Certainly, one might speculate idly whether transistors might have been discovered by people who had not been trained in and had not contributed to wave mechanics or the quantum theory of solids. It so happened that the inventors of transistors were versed in and contributed to the quantum theory of solids. 90 One might ask whether basic circuits in computers might have been found by people who wanted to build computers. As it happens, they were discovered in the thirties by physicists dealing with the counting of nuclear particles, because they were interested in nuclear physics. One might ask whether there would be nuclear power because people wanted new power sources or whether the urge to have new power would have led to the discovery of the nucleus. Perhaps - only it didn't happen that way. .

.WHY ARE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IMPORTANT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT? Expanded scientific activity is thought to benefit national economic development through improved labor force capacities and the creation of new knowledge and technology. However, scientific research activity expands as a global process and reflects the penetration of societies by a general rationalistic world culture. Scientific expansion and the accompanying cultural penetration legitimate a board progressive agenda of social amelioration (e.g., by identifying environmental and health problems, and social welfare and human rights issues) that can result in regulation and direct constrainsts on productive economic activity in the short term. Thus, science can be seen as encouraging a trade-off between short-term economic growth and boarder (and longer-term) social development. The effects of dimensions of scientific infrastrucutre on national economic growth are examined over the 1970-1990 period. Cross-national analyses show that the size of a nation's scientific labor force and training system has a positive effect on economic development, supporting conventional theories. However, indicators

of national involvement in scientific research activity show negative effects on economic growth. Corollary analyses show that this negative effect is partially explained by the expansion of scientific activity into more socially relevant domains (e.g., medicine, environmental sciences, etc.) thus supporting the main argument.

The central question of this paper is; what has science and technology contributed to African development? Ideally, this section should document: the new firms that have been brought into being as a result exploiting science and technology opportunities; the new products and processes that have resulted; the number of jobs that have been created as a result of technology - based firms that have been started; the contribution of science and technology to Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and the development of new industry clusters of high technology firms.

In the introduction, we showed that there are theoretical and methodological problems in trying to isolate the contribution of science and technology to GDP. However, it is generally agreed that science and technology is critical for economic growth even when its precise contribution has rarely been determined. We shall therefore examine the less controversial contributions of science and technology in the rest of this section. Science and technology has contributed to Africa=s development in at least four areas: agriculture, transport and communication, energy, human and animal health; education and the environment. African agriculture has witnessed considerable transformation in several respects. Crops that were formally alien to the continent such as wheat, barley, rice, maize, tomatoes and apples have been successfully introduced and adapted to different countries in Africa. Many research results from the agricultural research institutions on the continent have been successfully disseminated to farmers. This dissemination has transformed plant breeding, agronomy, physiology and horticulture. The impact of these results has been manifested in higher yields; the introduction of disease, and pest - resistant varieties; and the production of crops of higher nutritional value. Our Table 8 gives the lowest and highest yields achieved in the four most popular staple foods of Africans - maize, sorghum, cassava and yams. When these are contrasted with traditional yields, the impact of new technology becomes obvious. The highest yield increases were achieved with respect to root croPS.

IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Economic and commercial integration is not enough for the sustainable development of the Western Hemisphere. Integration based on scientifi c and technological common interests and efforts is also necessary for the better use of scarce resources and the collaboration, and strengthening of the scientifi c community, among other things. Investment in cyber infrastructure, for example, will allow smaller countries to have access to highly elaborate and sophisticated research facilities located in other more developed countries. With these new forms of collaboration, efforts such as thematic networks and transnational laboratories could be more easily introduced in the region. In delineating national and regional policies and strategies, it is essential for intergovernmental institutions like the OAS to stimulate an active dialogue between the scientifi c community and the political and social leadership. National and regional development of science and technology requires a strong and committed scientifi c community and an active network of collaborating scientifi c institutions. International organizations have an important role in promoting collaboration in conjunction with institutions that share the same purposes. Collaboration can complement expertise and result in increased funding, so that more ambitious projects and programs can be undertaken to benefi t the countries of the region. Smaller countries can take advantage of the economy of scale afforded by such collaborative schemes, while the entire scientifi c community of the region will be a benefi ciary of greater cooperative possibilities. The generation of national and regional policies and strategies requires the establishment of a very active dialogue between the scientifi c community and political and social leaders. In this sense, intergovernmental agencies such as the OAS should stimulate dialogues and contacts that facilitate this encounter. Academies of sciences and other scientifi c institutions also have a major responsibility in presenting the opinions and initiatives of the scientifi c community. Science and technology is fundamental for promoting and expanding democracy. The concept of democracy must encompass the active involvement of all citizens in making and monitoring decisions that affect the public welfare. In the Knowledge Society of today, this means that citizenship should involve training and literacy in basic scientifi c principles. In this regard, the importance of having the scientifi c perspective as an integral part of the education system from its very earliest stages was stressed.

HOW CAN BASIC SCEINCE CAN BE USED FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF A NATION?

inclusion of science and technology in formal education, beginning at the earliest levels, in a way that balances education and science concerns; teacher education and training programs and the development of curriculum components and knowledge content that insure teachers ability to transmit and students capacity to receive basic scientifi c principles and a scientifi c message and outlook; educational activities grounded on basic scientifi c principles and the provision of local opportunities for students to apply science and scientifi c principles at the local level in response to local needs;

involvement of the scientifi c community as change agents in the development of a scientifi c mindset within the educational system; promotion of foreign language learning to facilitate information exchange; utilization of the educational portal of the OAS for scientifi c education. Moreover, governments should develop and execute national and regional policies and programs that remove or mitigate gender-related considerations hindering the construction of a sciencebased outlook and mindset through: removal of gender-role stereotypes affecting career choices, attitudes, teacher behavior, and education and training materials; instead, targeting girls for science career. incorporation of the concept of gender fairness into the educational curriculum and the establishment of a balance between male and female teachers; examination of existing programs addressing gender issues and provision of mechanisms to facilitate their use by education professionals. Government policies should be developed and executed that expand scientifi c knowledge and implant a scientifi c mindset at all levels of society through: inclusion within the concept of scientifi c institutions and scientifi c community those institutions and groups (hospitals, museums, zoos, etc.) capable of collaborating in science research, dissemination, and popularization activities necessary to insure science and technology s viable and effective contribution to social development; programs that popularize science and technology in a user-friendly way;