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  /  Subverting, disenchanting and rationalizing STI systems for revealing modernity in Africa

Subverting, disenchanting and rationalizing STI systems for revealing modernity in Africa

Jacques L. Hamel, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia

Abstract: The paper provides a speculative reflection on the power of modern science, technology and innovation systems (STI) for revealing some distinctive style of modernity in Africa. The modernization of these systems, as the backbones of any mode of modernity, also requires the modernization of our mental or intellectual costumes. This process is essentially the passage from closed, selfconfirming, faith-based, customary, totalizing or terrorizing knowledge systems to essentially falsifiable, evidence-based, scientifically-established and technicallyproven innovative knowledge systems. In these systems scientific knowledge can be construed as a theory of the real and as a technology of truth and understood as the epistemological foundation of any form of Afro-modernity. It is also the passage from the ‘Book of Scripture’ to the ‘Book of Nature’ or from the submission to the white man’s colonizing gods to the more authentic and genuine African identities, beliefs and values, such as those embodied in the concept of ubuntu. The paper discusses a possible way forward in terms of capacity development in STI in Africa with an emphasis on some observed weaknesses regarding fundamental long term neglected issues. It provides some ideas for filling gaps in the context of the call by a number of African thinkers, including the Executive Secretary of UNECA, for initiating a ‘scientific revolution’ on the African continent.

Keywords: Africa, innovation, innovation systems, STI, capacities, science, technology, knowledge, modernity, MDGs