|In Pursuit of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes (UNU, 1995, 286 p.)|
|Part I: Introduction|
|1 Scope and method|
If the enunciated objective of Structural Adjustment Programmes is to help make the recipients more productive, the enunciated objective of this study can be posed as the question: do Structural Adjustment Programmes help to make a few of the institutions of the recipients more productive? Not all the institutions, for the study is not of sufficient scope to address such a monumental question, but only those institutions which attempt to advance the recipient country's science and technology.
Why focus on the advance of science and technology? The answer is clear, if not entirely lacking in controversy: the productivity of a country's population depends more than anything else in the long run on that country's ability to achieve technical progress. In the short run, to be sure, improvements may be secured through increases in the efficiency with which existing scarce resources are applied, through reallocations of the scarce resources to different sectors of the economy and different types of organizations, and through increased availability of imports financed by foreign loans; but these are once-and-for-all advances. After the short-run improvements have been secured, subsequent progress depends greatly upon the country's developing and absorbing new techniques, upon its making and exploiting advances in science and technology. In the long run it is advances in science and technology that are crucial for economic success.
Hence our concern with science and technology, and with the effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes on their advance. But just as we shall be able to study only a sample of those institutions that are assigned the task of advancing science and technology, so we can only consider a few countries. Since the majority of developing countries have adopted, or are adopting, Structural Adjustment Programmes, there is a large universe to select from. A lack of readily available material on the achievements of institutions engaged in furthering science and technology has prevented us from carrying out the sort of statistical analysis on the macro-economic effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes attempted by several authors (World Bank, 1988a and 1990; Harrigan and Mosley, 1991; Faini et al. 1991; and Stewart, 1991). We therefore limit ourselves to a few countries, choosing Ghana in West Africa, and Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa. Like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa these four are quite poor, with few reserves to cushion themselves from external shocks and internal dislocations. The majority of their populations is engaged in agriculture; their manufacturing is erected on a fragile base; their governments' revenues are scanty and expenditures over-committed; and a large fraction of their overseas earnings are consumed in servicing foreign debt. Adjustment to the IMF/World Bank's satisfaction would be expected to be very difficult, and to take a very long time, years or even decades, rather than months. Like other grave economic matters capital investment, education, health, the birthrate - the phenomena on which we are focusing are not altered on short notice. Nor can our observations, extending over at most a decade, provide other than a guess at what will be the lasting effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes on the pursuit of science and technology.
Definition of terms
Science and technology are imprecise terms; yet if we are to measure the effects of Structural Adjustment Programmes upon them, and their effects, in turn, upon the economies under adjustment, we must consider the terms' meaning.
Figure 1.1 may be of some use in setting limits to the terms 'science and technology'. The figure displays the chief scientific and technological institutions within a country, comprised of those which provide scientific and technical education; those independent institutions which carry out R&D; and producers (firms, government ministries, para-statals, plantations, etc.), a few of which conduct R&D, as commonly defined, and many of which also assimilate and improve upon the techniques they employ. The main flows between these institutions - flows of individuals and flows of information (or knowledge and know-how, which tend, in Sub-Saharan Africa to flow with individuals) - are indicated by the arrows. Like others who write about science and technology (e.g. Forje, 1989: 18) we shall consider all the institutions and their links, human and intellectual, i.e. all the stocks and flows in Figure 1.1, to constitute science and technology. We shall also include, to the extent possible, the mores encountered, i.e. those attitudes, inducements, rules and procedures that set the environment within which science and technology are advanced.
To draw a figure, and to say that our subject is all it contains, is not to make the task any easier nor the measures any more precise. Everyone who studies science and technology recognizes that the terms are not only imprecise but also incomprehensible. Relevant outputs from scientific and technical education and R&D institutions are unquantifiable; those from the educational establishments, to whose graduates numbers can be attached, do not reveal their standards of attainment nor their future potential. Where numbers can be ascribed to the scientific and technical education, and R&D institutions they are of the nature of inputs - so many scientists employed within and R&D laboratory or so many engineers and technicians working on improving a company's manufacturing process. These data give no indication of whether or not the individuals are working together harmoniously, whether or not the results of their efforts will be applied expeditiously. Data of this last sort, qualitative material on the effectiveness of institutions' expenditures on science and technology, emerge only after thorough investigation.
Figure 1.1 Flow diagram of the model of structural adjustment