«ANSA Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa The search for Sustainable human development in Southern Africa Editors: Godfrey Kanyenze, ...»
Bearing in mind the unfortunate experience of reductions in budgetary allocations to science and technology cited earlier, it is encouraging to note that the protocol encouraged member states to strengthen research capacities in their countries through the allocation of adequate resources to universities and research institutes to enable them to undertake socioeconomic and technological research. Universities were to forge links with non-university institutes and the private sector and SADC sectors to access research facilities for joint use. The networking of professionals within the region was also encouraged. The protocol also encouraged the setting up of Centres of Excellence to maximise the use of expensive research facilities.
However, in spite of the recognition of the critical role of science and technology in achieving regional development goals, it still fell under Education and Research Cooperation rather than as a stand-alone. It was seen as a long-term objective given that member states were to have science and technology policies within ten years of signing the Protocol.
There is no doubt whatsoever that there is recognition of the role of science and technology in development within the SADC. The problem is where overall economic policy is either cast in the neo-liberal framework or where there is no clear statement on the need for strategic interventions to achieve science and technology development. This is because the neo-liberal framework is totally at cross-purposes with this objective. As a case in point, while SADC through its various protocols, emphasises the need for co-operation in human resource development at the higher level, the World Bank is of the view that African investment in higher education is a misallocation of resources.
Since the mid-1980s there has been a plethora of studies published by the World Bank (FEDC 1986, FCSG 1991, E&A 1991, EDE 1991), which basically argued for a reduction in higher education spending in Africa.
This thinking, which is quite out of sync with the requirements of globalisation, sees Africa as destined for producing low value goods with cheap and unskilled labour, deemed to be in surplus. In the studies referred to above, the World Bank's researchers argued that the social return to investment in primary education was 28%, while on the tertiary level it was 13%. The return to public investment in higher education was 13%, while it was 32% to private investment (Caffentzis in Federici et al.
The logic of these studies is that Africa should put more resources into primary education. This cannot be in the interest of a continent that seeks to produce high value goods in the long run and develop its own producer goods sector, which historically has been the engine of all industrialisation. The argument even runs contrary to the current brain drain from the South to the North and the need to continuously replenish high-level human resources.
The SADC's RISDP (2003) sees science and technology as a key to solving
challenges facing regional co-operation as follows:
"Science and Technology is a key driver of socio-economic development and the achievements of most of the objectives of the SADC Common Agenda may be facilitated by scientific and technological solutions.
Technological innovation is a key factor in the development and competitiveness of the regional economies, which leads to wealth creation and the improvement of living standards. Most of the challenges facing regional integration as identified in the RISDP such as food security, energy, water, transport, communications infrastructure and human resources development will require scientific and technological solutions.
"The overall aim of the intervention in Science and Technology in the region is to develop and strengthen national systems of innovation in order to drive sustained socio-economic development and the rapid achievement of the goals of the SADC Common Agenda including poverty reduction with the ultimate aim of its eradication.
While following in the tradition of previous positions it goes further through its emphasis on strengthening of regional cooperation in science and technology, development and harmonisation of policies, technology development, transfer and diffusion. It also demands for a public understanding of science and technology. Furthermore, it set time bound targets in a number of key areas."
Table 1. SADC science and technology targets
An assessment of the achievement of these targets is subject to a separate exercise beyond this paper. This only serves to show that there is some recognition of the importance of science and technology in the SADC. However the actual practice is something else mediated by national interests and the major drivers of science and technology in the region.
The emphasis of ANSA is to break out of this mould that has kept the region back and created unevenness in science and technology.
RISDP also places great emphasis on the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) and sets targets in this area. Such is the importance placed on ICT that the theme of the 1999 SADC Consultative Conference was information technology. ICT was seen as enabling countries even without a developed telecommunications infrastructure to leapfrog into the future through the use of wireless technologies and fibre. This was very much the view of the World Bank's Internet report (Kahn 2001).
The Declaration on Productivity (SADC 1999) notes the lack of "competitiveness of the regional economies, intra-regional and regional economic disparities, which negatively impact on the SADC Region’s development, integration and competitiveness". It expresses concern over a lack of a common vision and understanding of productivity and low levels of co-operation among social partners on productivity issues. To achieve productivity, the SADC Heads of State made commitments to inter alia formulate appropriate policies at the following levels.
3.1 Macro level
• Enhance human resource development and technological capabilities at the enterprise, sect oral, national and regional levels
• Promote and strengthen horizontal and vertical linkages among micro, small, medium and large-scale enterprise at national, regional and international levels.
3.2 Institutional level
• Establish or strengthen an institutional framework for dispute settlement and productivity bargaining
• Promote participatory labour relations and work process and establish mechanisms for sharing in the gains from productivity enhancement.
3.3 Enterprise Level
• Strengthen the capacity of enterprises to redesign various aspects of their operations for the purpose of enhancing productivity and promoting vertical and horizontal linkages in production, resources used, distribution and marketing among enterprises nationally and regionally
• Develop a framework for the implementation of the Declaration on
Productivity through the following actions:
Facilitate the establishment of National Productivity o Organizations (NPOs) in all member states by 2001 by the Employment and Labour Sector (ELS) and ensuring the involvement of other key stakeholders that can contribute to the creation and sustenance of effective NPOs Establish, by the ELS, a mechanism for co-operation, sharing o of experiences, know-how and information among NPOs in the Region Monitor productivity growth by collating relevant national o productivity statistics under the ELS and establishing benchmarks for productivity improvement.
So far Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe have established national Productivity Centres/Institutes to enhance productivity under the Productivity Improvement Programme. In the case of Zimbabwe the idea was first mooted at the launch of the structural adjustment programme in
1991. It was launched three years ago as a division in the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, but failed to take off due to lack of funding and commitment among stakeholders. The NPC got a new lease of life in 2005 with a capital injection of $Z6 billion from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (The Business Herald 2005). Its real impact can only be assessed once it becomes fully operational.
The draft proposals on the establishment of the SADC Productivity Organisation (SADCPO) were completed in 2004 encompassing the organisational structure, objectives, mandate, role and action plan for its operationalisation. The draft has been circulated to member states for further national and regional consultations (SADC 2004).
The preceding section merely serves to highlight the intentions on science and technology in SADC. It must be added that science and technology has received considerable attention in the SADC and some countries have raised the science and technology function to ministerial level and in some cases, such as in Zimbabwe, this is housed in the Office of the President.
However the concrete conditions and practice probably tell a different story. What is critical for this paper is the observed silence of RISPD on the critical role of the state in bringing about science and technology development friendly policies. The argument is that these require specific interventions on the part of the state and cannot be left to market forces per se. Therefore where RISDP and its sister strategy NEPAD embrace some of the tenets of the neo-liberal model, this cannot be viewed as being science and technology friendly. The issue is that market failures so oft-referred to by the World Bank occur at different levels of equilibrium and markets can clear at lower levels of income and growth (Lall 1999).
The real issue is to change the endowments and create new parameters for markets to clear at higher levels of growth and income. For this to happen there has to be strategic interventions that change and deepen the industrial structure and expand the technological base of the
economies of the SADC countries so that they can achieve:
• Global competitiveness
• Regional complementarity.
The latter, especially, cannot be left to market forces alone. Yet, in the absence of regional co-operation in achieving these twin objectives, there is every reason to believe that individual countries will pursue parochial strategies to achieve (a) at the expense of (b).
4. Practice and performance of science and technology in SADC; an overview While a country-by-country account on science and technology is not done in this paper, the broad indicators presented below gives a clue of the kind of disparities that exist.
An examination of SADC economic indicators, as shown below, reveals great disparities in both the sizes of the economies and income per capita.
South Africa with a 2002 GDP of US$111 billion easily emerges as the regional powerhouse. In fact it dwarfs the second largest economy, i.e.
Zimbabwe at US$17.8 billion. Using the above data to classify the
countries by income per capita, three groups are observable:
• Upper income US$2630/capita to US$6910/capita, i.e. Seychelles, Mauritius Botswana and South Africa
• Middle income US$1190/capita to US$1650/capita, i.e. Namibia and Swaziland
• Lower income US$90/capita to US$680/capita the rest of the eight members of the regional grouping.
Even within these three groupings, there are great disparities. Apart from these intra group disparities, there are also great disparities within the individual countries. In fact two members of the regional grouping once ranked as some of the countries with the highest income inequalities in the world. Using Gini coefficients, South Africa (62.3) and Zimbabwe (56.83) were ranked among the top five countries out of 108 in terms of income inequality (Deininger and Squire 1996). The comparable figures for other SADC countries were Lesotho 56.02, Botswana 54.21, Mauritius 40.67, Tanzania 40.37 and Zambia 47.26.
Table 2. SADC selected economic indicators
Source: World Development Indicators, www.worldbank.org/devdata. N.B. 2001∗ While it might be argued that the figures are a bit dated, they still serve to illustrate the internal disparities that prevailed. With the advent of neoliberal economic policies and the rolling back of the state from some of its social functions, there is every reason to believe that these disparities have worsened. Such a skewed income distribution has effects on the size of the domestic market and the ensuing consumption structure. This necessarily has an effect on the technological configuration of the production and import structure, i.e. mass consumption goods versus luxury items for the select few.
A few countries emerge as destinations for FDI in the region. The pattern follows the resource rich countries of Angola and Botswana on the one hand, and South Africa on the other. If one assumes that FDI is a vehicle for technology imports and generation, which is not necessarily the case, especially where this is going into natural resource exploitation such as diamonds and oil, then possibly only South Africa emerges as the sole beneficiary of this mode of technology importation.
It goes without saying therefore that SADC, as it is currently constituted, has all the ingredients for a few countries to break away from the pack both in terms of science and technology and economic growth, further exacerbating the intra-regional disparities that the grouping seeks to close. These disparities are reflected also in the internal composition of the socio-economic structures of the member states. The law of uneven development is an objective that needs the conscious intervention of citizens and a developmentalist state. Market forces alone cannot solve its effects.
The trade figures need careful interpretation, especially where exportprocessing zones exist such as the Lesotho garments industry. This is because items for re-export are classified under imports. But this in itself tells a story about the diversity of the economies of the region.