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close this bookThe Use of Technology in Alleviating Poverty in Tanzania (REPOA, 1994, 35 p.)
View the documentScience and Technology
View the documentThe Concept of Appropriate Technology
View the documentSome Perspectives on Technology Assessment and Choice
View the documentThe Concept of Technology Transfer
View the documentA Conceptual Framework for Techno-Economic Development Management

Some Perspectives on Technology Assessment and Choice

Technology assessment as reported by Martino (1983), can be of three kinds: reactive, corrective, and anticipatory. Reactive assessment is a reaction to currently recognized problems. The objective is to alter the technology, if possible, to prevent further damage. Corrective assessment involves tracing problems to their causes, and initiating research and development before it becomes severe. Anticipatory assessment is concerned with anticipating the future problems which would be posed by proposed technology. According to him, all the three aspects of technology assessment are important. Gotsch and McEachron (1983), have reported technology choice as a problem of choosing from among a set of feasible technological alternatives. Therefore, technology assessment provides the feasible alternatives where a choice can be made.

In the work of Chungu (1993), three distinctive criteria levels for technology choice are defined. These include the level of criteria for assessing the national priority needs, followed by the level of criteria for assessing the required type of industry, and finally, the level of criteria for assessing alternative techniques or "brands". The three criteria levels are named "socio-economic development sector criteria" for assessing the national priorities, "generic technology criteria" for assessing the industry priority, and "specific technology criteria" for assessing a suitable technique. Figure 3 shows in diagram form these categories of technology choice and their corresponding criteria.

The first category of choice from the socio-economic development sectors is encountered when a country wants to realize a particular objective, for instance, accelerated rural development, requiring an appropriate prioritization of national needs. This would involve the evaluation of the role of various sectors of the economy, such as food, health, afforestation, energy, mining, and communication, in rural development. Rohatgi and Rohatgi (1979), and Sharif and Sundararajan (1984) have made use of criteria C1 (Figure 3) for choosing priority sectors for socio-economic development.

The identification of the processes that should be used for the fulfilment of a particular need takes place at the second level. This involves the evaluation of the type of industries which will fulfil the needs of the country. This could include the assessment of vegetable oil processing, cooking stoves, milling, textile and other such industrial processes. Forsyth et al. (1980), Sharif and Sundararajan (1983), and Bagachwa (1991) have used criteria level C2 (Figure 3) for choosing generic technology.

The third category deals with assessment of specific technology to best meet either the need of the group, or community, or the country at large. This involves assessment of techniques or products represented by different brands, for instance, the "IPI" oil expeller, the "Bielenburg" oil press, the "TEMDO" oil expeller, the "KIT" oil expeller, the "IRRI" thresher, the "Komatsu" tiller, the "Caterpillar" bulldozer, etc. Mcbain (1977), Bowonder (1979), Gotsch and McEachron (1983), Sharif and Sundararajan (1984), Stewart (1985), and Francis and Mansell (1988) have used criteria level C3 (Figure 3) for choosing specific technology.