We recently announced a new section of Afrinnovator.com for Book Reviews.

For our first review, we’ll be looking at a book that was put together following a research on the ‘Futures of Technology in Africa’ done by Jasper Grosskurth a futurist and researcher with the STT Netherlands Study Center for Technology Trends

Futures of Technology in Africa

Futures of Technology in Africa

Jasper travelled widely across sub-saharan Africa meeting key movers and shakers in different areas of technology in a bid to understand where the continent currently stands in terms of technological progress, what trends are currently evident and what the future probably holds for the continent in this respect. Jasper interviewed people from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa and Ghana. In addition to this he also ran workshops such as the FutureWorks workshop in Nairobi, Kenya where he brought together people from different backgrounds – software, energy, artists… – and got them thinking on where technology was moving in the future.

The introduction reads thus: “Every successful economic catch-up in history in the past 140 years has involved the appropriation of international technology, and technology plays an important role in most strategies to alleviate poverty, including the UN Millenium Development Goals.”

In the book, Jasper clearly indicates that it is not meant to be an in depth, 100% objectively predictive piece of literature on the future of technology in Africa:

“This book is not a comprehensive inventory of technology in Africa. Those looking for a detailed quantitative overview of sector-specific information and detailed forecasts will be disappointed, though they might find valuable nuggets.”

And why focus on Africa?

“The combination of a highly dynamic region with excellent opportunities for developmetn on the one hand, and a desperate need to improve the quality of life for a large pat of the population on the other, makes Africa an exciting and worthwhile project target”

Reading this book renews feelings of optimism and hope for this continent that is still largely considered a ‘dark continent’ by many, mostly due to misconceptions about the continent. Jasper highlights quite to the contrary vast improvements in not only new infrastructure but the very best of it, tried and tested technologies are being introduced onto the continent. Roads, energy and more.

In the course of his research Jasper got to speak in several forums concerning what he was coming across as he travelled Africa. One such event was the STEPS Center Manifesto Roundtable was hosted by the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology – www.ethicsandtechnology.eu

Manifesto: Jasper Grosskurth

View more presentations from STEPS Centre.

Book chapters:

  1. 21st century Africa
  2. African futures studies (Author: Geci Karuri-Sebina)
  3. Exploring technology futures
  4. Africa will be flat (With contributions from Ben White and Gertjan van Stam)
  5. Energizing Africa (With contributions from Birthe Paul and Janneke Brouwers)
  6. The road less paved
  7. Seeds of change
  8. Too many futures (With contributions from Wambura Kimunyu, Njoroge Matathia, Tonee Ndungu and Sheila Ochugboju)
  9. Technology in context (With Sheila Ochugboju)
  10. Learning from Africa
  11. A guide for the future
  12. A Kenyan Science Fiction Story: The Last Infirmity of Noble Minds (Author: Wambura Kimunyu)

The book is available free for download from the STT website or you canorder prints.

The face of Africa is being changed fundamentally by both current and future trends in many areas. Economically, most African countries have outgrown the world economy for the last decade. Politically, the number of conflicts is decreasing and the region is becoming more stable. Culturally, the continent is discovering its own capacities and diversity in a globalizing world. And technologically, Africa has surprised even the most optimistic experts with how it has embraced the potential of the mobile phone. The more than 450 million units in use today are only a prelude to a fundamental ICT revolution in Africa.

Futures of Technology in Africa is based on a foresight project initiated by the STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends. The project and this book explore the promise of technology as a driver of positive change in this diverse continent. Mobile health applications will save lives, long-distance education will increase skills levels, information technology will make local markets more efficient with benefits for both buyers and sellers, and the accountability of governments will increase with greater access to information. However, the same technology can also be destructive and a cause of significant problems. Either way, technology will affect almost every aspect of life in Africa, including basic needs, agriculture, health, education, culture, business and governance. It is these manifold interrelations of technology with its environment that makes exploring its future so interesting and valuable.

What will the future bring? To answer this question, we have travelled to Africa’s technology hotspots, such as Nairobi, Johannesburg and Lagos, interviewed technology pioneers, journalists, entrepreneurs, academics and government representatives, held workshops on the future of selected industries and regions, screened publications ranging from weblogs to scientific journals, and built an extensive network of partners.

Futures of Technology in Africa reveals insights into the next two decades of ICT, energy and infrastructure and how developments in these sectors are going to affect everything else. It contains scenarios providing a fascinating glimpse of how the opportunities and risks might play out. You will find advice on how businesses can take part in the opportunities as well as lessons that the West can learn from Africa. As a bonus, the book also contains one of the very few African science fiction stories, specially written for this publication. Whatever your interest in Africa, this book is sure to surprise you.

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