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The Expectations and Challenges in the Development of Nanotechnology in Sub-Saharan Africa

Saidi, Trust (2009) The Expectations and Challenges in the Development of Nanotechnology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Masters thesis, Maastricht University.

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Abstract

The study investigated the expectations and challenges in the development of nanotechnology in sub-Saharan Africa. As nanotechnology is an emerging technology with expectations for economic and social development, the study developed a theoretical framework to analyse the mobilisation of expectations on nanotechnology based on the dynamics of expectations as well as promise-requirements and hype-disappointment cycle. Discourse analysis was done to establish how different scholars present the technology in the development arena. The theories of technological development namely technological determinism and social construction of technology were used as the basic tools for discourse analysis. It emerged from the study that the dominant discourse of technological determinism is used to portray nanotechnology as an autonomous force capable of addressing global challenges in the provision of food, water, health and energy. As such, the expectations on nanotechnology are intertwined with the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) which gives the impression that the technology is a global phenomena inclined towards the needs of the poor. The study however revealed that the deterministic and instrumental perspective in which expectations on nanotechnology are conveyed in meeting the needs of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa is rhetoric and theoretical chartering of the technology without considering the social and cultural context in which the technology is entrenched as per the social construction of technology. The study revealed that the expectations on nanotechnology are speculative claims that serve as powerful constructions for legitimising the technological domain. As such, it emerged that there is tension between the expectations and practical application of the technology which is a function of patents, market forces of demand and supply, application of technical solutions to social problems, loss of comparative advantages and limited financial, physical and human resources. These form formidable challenges in transforming expectations into reality in sub-Saharan Africa. On the basis of these findings, the study recommends the integration of nanotechnology into the social context of the poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the enactment of vibrant technology policies with clearly defined strategies aimed at exploiting the technology to address poverty. As financial resources militate against the adoption of the technology, public and private partnership should be encouraged and centres of excellence should be established to promote research and development that is driven by the needs of the end users. Furthermore, the study recommends capacity building in nanotechnology through manpower development.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:nanotechnology, expectations, development, technological determinism
Subjects:Social and Political Science > Societal and ethical aspects of nanotechnology
Social and Political Science > Policy developments with respect to nanotechnology
ID Code:7335
Deposited By:Lesley Tobin
Deposited On:29 Oct 2009 16:34
Last Modified:29 Oct 2009 16:34

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