|Blending of New and Traditional Technologies - Case Studies (ILO - WEP, 1984, 312 p.)|
|PART 1: CONCEPTUAL AND EMPIRICAL ISSUES|
|Chapter 1. Blending of new technologies with traditional economic activity*|
|Chapter 2. Experience of the Green Revolution*|
|PART 2: CASE STUDIES|
|Chapter 3. Application of microcomputers to Portugals agricultural management*|
|Chapter 4. Off-line uses of microcomputers in selected developing countries*|
|Chapter 5. The use of personal computers in Italian biogas plants*|
|Chapter 6. Microelectronics in textile production: A family firm (United Kingdom) and cottage industry with AVL looms (United States)|
|Chapter 7. Microelectronics in small/medium enterprises in the United Kingdom*|
|Chapter 8. Integration of old and new technologies in the Italian (Prato) textile industry*|
|Chapter 9. The use of numerically controlled machines on traditional lathes: The Brazilian capital goods industry*|
|Chapter 10. Electronic load-controlled mini-hydroelectric projects: Experiences from Colombia, Sri Lanka and Thailand*|
|Chapter 11. The application of biotechnology to metal extraction: The case of the Andean countries*|
|Chapter 12. Cloning of Palm Oil Trees in Malaysia*|
|Chapter 13. Technological Change in Palm Oil in Costa Rica*|
|Chapter 14. Biotechnology applications to some African fermented foods*|
|Chapter 15. Use of satellite remote-sensing techniques in West Africa*|
|Chapter 16. Indias rural educational television broadcasting via satellites*|
|Chapter 17. New construction materials for developing countries*|
|Chapter 18. Photovoltaic solar-powered pump irrigation in Pakistan*|
|Chapter 19. Photovoltaic power supply to a village in Upper Volta*|
|PART 3: CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE ACTION|
|Chapter 20. Prospects for successful blending*|
|ANNEX: SELECTED EXAMPLES OF EXPERIMENTS AND PROJECTS*|
|A. Microprocessor/Computer Applications|
|B. Other microelectronics/electronics applications|
|II. Robotics and Numerically Controlled Machines|
|A. Laser techniques|
|IV. Satellite Technology|
|A. Remote sensing applications|
|B. Satellite broadcasting|
|V. New materials|
|A. Ceramics and amorphous silicon|
|B. Fibre reinforced composites|
|A. Irradiation techniques|
|B. New chemical processes|
*Contributed by the ILO.
THE CASE STUDIES in Part 2 can be grouped into the following categories in a descending order: (i) microelectronics; (ii) biotechnology; (iii) photovoltaic cells (solar technology); (iv) remote sensing; (v) communication satellites; and (vi) new materials. Although no exhaustive search and investigation was possible within the time available, we can conjecture that commercialisation and application of the above emerging technologies follow roughly the above order especially in the case of developing countries. For example, there seems to be a consensus that the microelectronics applications are more widespread than those of biotechnology, new materials or photovoltaic cells. This seems to be confirmed by our limited sample of case studies. In our search for operational/experimental projects we were struck by a large amount of very general literature on the new technologies. The bulk of this literature deals with general trends, forecasts and possible applications in the future; some of it is in the nature of feasibility studies which may or may not materialise. There is very little documentation and analysis of projects and experiments which seem to be under way as is evidenced by selected examples given in the Annex. As expected, it was much easier to find examples of ongoing projects in the field of microelectronics than of other new technologies. Even so, it was difficult to locate many ongoing projects with a specific focus on blending of new technologies with traditional economic activities with a view to improving the standards of living of the rural and urban poor in developing countries. Even in the advanced countries, it was rare to find specific examples of applications of emerging technologies to small-scale businesses and traditional industries.
I. CONCLUSIONS OF THE CASE STUDIES
Most case studies included in Part 2 demonstrate the lack of any conscious effort on the part of governments of both developed and developing countries to gear the frontier technologies towards improving the lot of the worlds poor. Most examples and projects on blending of new technologies with traditional economic activities are ad hoc and financed mainly by international funding agencies without the necessary participation of the host countries. This is discussed in Chapter 13 on palm oil cloning in Costa Rica which notes that very few research and development (R and D) personnel are Costa Ricans and the subsidiary of a multinational enterprise has no organic links with the local scientific and technological community.
In many cases, the financial participation of developing countries is impossible, but participation of their skilled manpower is both possible and essential to ensure that local technological capacity is built up over time through learning by doing. A corollary to this is the need for developing countries to train required skilled manpower in adequate supply and quality to assimilate new technologies more efficiently. Even in the advanced countries like the United Kingdom, the skill shortages in the use of microelectronics were felt by both small and large enterprises (see Chapter 7).
Second, the experience with assessments of projects shows that very little if any systematic data collection is done on a regular basis. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate the success or failure of the projects or experiments in the light of any systematic criteria or quantitative parameters. Thus, regular data collection needs to be built into the design and operation of projects.
As noted in Chapter 1, utilisation of many new technologies can occur in an integrated manner to obtain optimal results. Yet in practice it is rare to find such cases of interaction. Only Chapter 5 on the use of personal computers in Italian biogas plants presents a concrete example of blending of solar technology, biogas, and personal computers. This is an area for fruitful and innovative pioneer projects.
As expected, problems are associated with some blending experiments and projects. In Malaysia (Chapter 12) the cloning of palm oil trees upgrades an existing industry and appears to be highly beneficial. However, in Costa Rica, application of biotechnologically improved techniques to palm oil production (Chapter 13) will merely hasten the substitution of palm oil trees for more labour-intensive banana production with an attendant loss in employment. Similarly, while satellite technology for remote sensing is being applied beneficially in Third World countries (Chapter 15), Indias satellite television broadcast for rural education (Chapter 16) has fallen far short of its original goals.
Most of the operational cases are experimental or pilot plants. With the exception of microelectronics, the use of most emerging technologies in developing countries is not yet widespread. This is due partly to the high cost of such technologies (e.g. the case of photovoltaic cells discussed in chapters 18 and 19) and partly to a slower rate of advance in some new technologies than in microelectronics. In addition, by the very nature of these technologies (some passed the laboratory stage only within the last five to ten years) many applications to traditional activities have not stood the test of time. In the case of remote-sensing techniques, for example, the first remote-sensing satellite was launched in 1972; since then scientists have been concerned mainly with establishing its potential.
On the positive side, the case studies in Part II show that blending of new and old technologies is feasible and can be successful. Electronic load-controlled small hydro-electric power generator (Chapter 10) is a case in point. The economic results of this technology are positive in three developing countries and its use is subject to local control. The case of using numerically controlled machines on traditional lathes in Brazil (Chapter 9) can also be regarded as a success although progress has been attained slowly due to a number of obstacles. In the field of biotechnology the attractive potential for fruitful blending is illustrated by Chapters 11 and 14 which deal respectively with more efficient metal extraction through bacterial leaching and the upgrading of the production processes of African foods through fermentation technologies. The Italian Commission on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Sources has achieved improved efficiency in biogas plants through the use of personal computers (Chapter 5), and believes some of the results can be transferred to developing countries. Microcomputer application to Portugals agricultural sector (Chapter 3) gives an example of blending in a country generally considered as a transitional economy just beginning to emerge as developed, while still exhibiting some characteristics of the Third World.
Although some blending experience has shown little local control or absorption of newly introduced technology, for example, technological innovation in Costa Rican palm oil production (Chapter 13), this is not always the case. The blending of numerically controlled machines with traditional lathes in Brazil (Chapter 9) shows how domestic manufacturing firms can learn through experience and experimentation. Due to a particular combination of circumstances described in Chapter 11, the development of biotechnology for metals extraction in the Andean Pact countries is also very largely an indigenous effort.
The Prato textile experience (Chapter 8) suggests that under some circumstances, the technological upgrading of decentralised traditional industries is quite feasible. However, it also cautions the policy-makers in developing countries on the difficulties of accomplishing this goal. Prato has a long historical tradition of operating in a disaggregated way and has been able to adjust by establishing an informal communications system, financial institutions and transportation infrastructure. In this sense, Prato offers to developing countries an ideal picture of a decentralised traditional industry that exhibits great ability to integrate and absorb new innovations.
Finally, a valuable policy clue may be derived from the fact that new materials, while well into the applied stages in developed economies, are not finding applications in the developing countries to any great extent. Yet, Chapter 17 leads one to believe that beneficial applications of blending can be found. While a constant scanning of possible applications should be performed for all emerging technologies, such action is especially urgent for the new products of materials science.
II. PREREQUISITES FOR SUCCESSFUL BLENDING
A number of requirements will need to be met before proper and successful blending of emerging and traditional technologies can be achieved. These requirements will vary from sector to sector and from one type of producer to the other (e.g. small farmers, producers in the urban informal sector, and large-scale producers).1
First, in-depth knowledge of the nature and characteristics of traditional activities/technologies with which new technologies are to be integrated, is most essential. For a proper fusion into the traditional economic and socio-cultural environment and practices, the use of new technologies should improve the efficiency of these practices without radically altering the associated skill and input requirements.2 For example, in the case of traditional farmers, a new technology should not demand large cash outlays to which a small farmer has no access. Neither should it involve a high degree of risk.
Second, the local participation and involvement of the potential beneficiaries is essential for the success of the blending process and the pilot projects that might be launched to implement it. The problem of the lack of R and D linkages with the productive sector is now well-known. The need for such linkages seems to be even more crucial in a strategy of blending new and old technologies. This is due partly to the relative lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of both R and D personnel and the producers of emerging technologies.
Thus, a third requirement is the need for the dissemination of information on: (i) new technologies and their potential benefits to the users; and (ii) prevailing practices and the pattern of local resource use, organisation, and waste collection etc. in a given sector for use by the R and D and extension personnel. Knowledge of traditional techniques as well as the cultural, social and political forces which influence prevailing production patterns is also essential. For example, Chapter 14 shows that a better grasp of the contemporary fermented foods of Africa and an upgrading of these technologies through conventional biotechnology is a necessary precondition for the application of microelectronics and more advanced biotechnology. Also one might recall that the disappointing results of Indias village education through satellite TV broadcasting (Chapter 16) were not due to the technology per se. Rather, the poor results were due to the failure to judge accurately the public demand for entertainment programming, the greater political clout of urban India, the enormous diversity of village economies within the Indian regions and sub-regions, and similar other non-technological conditions.
Fourth, many of the new technologies are likely to demand new and additional types of software and infrastructure without which their utilisation is doomed to failure. Although miniaturisation of many of these new technologies - particularly microelectronics - enables their use in decentralised production, provision of centralised infrastructure and services, mostly by the public authorities, would be needed. Herein lies an important role for the governments of developing countries in the promotion of a blending strategy.
Readily available and identifiable markets for processes and products is another precondition for the successful integration of new technological innovations with traditional productive activity. Pilot experiments need not wait until the market potential has been exploited. There are time lags between trials and demonstrations of the new innovations and their widespread use on a commercial basis.
Finally, the selection of new innovations to be integrated with traditional activity should be based on a systematic set of criteria - economic, social, cultural and environmental - and a comprehensive framework of assessment of potential benefits to the target groups. In the final analysis, the nature of the desired benefits will determine the approach, type and scope of applications of the new technology (see the following section). We believe that the improvement of standards of living of the rural and the urban poor in developing countries should be one of the major objectives of the blending strategy.
III. NEED FOR ACTION
Concerted action is needed at different levels - international, regional and sub-regional, national and local - if the strategy of blending is to work in practice. As some action has already been initiated at the international level, we begin with it below.
To recapitulate past action, the United Nations Advisory Committee on the Application of Science and Technology for Development (ACSTD) has been most active in giving flesh and blood to the concept and strategy of integrating emerging and traditional technologies. An ad hoc panel on the subject was held in Los Ba(Philippines) in December 1982. This panel recommended, inter alia, the launching of pioneer projects to illustrate and demonstrate the practicability of the concept of blending. To take the idea of pioneer projects a step further, it recommended the preparation of this volume. A workshop as a follow-up to the ad hoc panel took place in Tokyo (Japan) in April 1984. The purpose of this workshop was to: (i) evaluate completed and ongoing projects related to emerging and traditional technologies; (ii) bring to the attention of governments and funding agencies, including the United Nations system, new innovative pioneer projects in both developing and developed countries; and (iii) discuss the modalities of launching a selected number of these projects at the national and sub-regional levels with the support of existing national, regional and international institutions like the International Rice Research Institute, Regional Centres for Technology Transfer, and national research laboratories. Part 2 of this volume on Case Studies provided useful background information for the deliberations of the workshop.
In addition to the above types of workshops, exhibitions and technology fairs specially focused on examples of blending may be another means of demonstration and diffusion of new innovations.
Technological change is a continuous process. As new innovations take place and existing ones extend their frontiers, new information and insights are likely to be available. International governmental organisations like the United Nations agencies and organisations, and non-governmental ones like the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) are ideally suited to disseminate information on a systematic and regular basis. A modest beginning has already been made in this direction but the challenge is too great for any single agency to handle the task in isolation. Therefore, it is desirable that a number of international agencies and organisations undertake this task in unison. As a first step, a common assessment framework needs to be agreed upon. In the light of this framework, pioneer projects and other experiments underway need to be assessed and evaluated. Here the international donors which finance many of these experiments also have a role to play. Proper assessments and evaluations are very stringent in data requirements. Therefore, it is desirable that funding agencies insist on components of data collection and periodic evaluation being built into the design of projects that they process.
Additional and more systematic information should enable more rigorous assessments and evaluations than those contained in Part 2 of the volume. For example, additional information on case studies included in Part 2 could enable existing assessments to be done in greater depth especially to examine the degree and limitations of integration possibilities in the existing projects. More data particularly on items contained in the Annex could also make possible additional assessments covering these examples. It was not possible to do any meaningful case studies of these examples for lack of data. It would be particularly useful to undertake a few assessments of failures and their causes. These could provide suitable guidelines for avoiding pitfalls in future pioneer projects. In the light of the above, it is recommended that the volume should be updated periodically, with a publication of supplements. The supplements could also report on the development of a suitable methodology on which some work has already been initiated.3
Additional information can also be disseminated through journals and newsletters many of which are already in existence. However, none of them pays any special attention to the blending of new technologies with traditional economic activity. To quote a few examples of existing newsletters, UNIDO has a Microelectronics Monitor and a Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Monitor, the ILO issues a special section on new technologies in its Social and Labour Bulletin, UNU issues abstracts of selected solar energy technology, ASSET, and UNESCO encourages biotechnology networks such as the Mircen. In addition to the newsletters and networks, UNCSTD proposes to publish a semi-annual journal - ATAS Bulletin. It would be useful if the existing channels were tapped to collect more systematic information on cases of blending. ACSTD may wish to recommend that the above organisations and agencies of the United Nations system pay special attention to data collection on cases of blending.
Regional and Sub-regional Level
The cost of development of most new technologies is too exorbitant for individual developing countries. For example, in 1979, semi-conductor firms in the United States invested US$447 million in R and D - an amount equivalent to 5.7 per cent of their sales.4 Similarly, private research on biotechnology in Japan amounted to US$203.5 million, and the equity capital of private biotechnology enterprises in the United States is in the neighbourhood of US$1,000 million.5
Furthermore, there is what is generally known as the assurance problem in undertaking R and D of the type involved in the generation of new technologies. This means that the high cost and substantial risks involved discourage individual countries from undertaking research without an assurance that others will do likewise.6 The experience of R and D in microbial leaching in the Andean Pact countries (Chapter 11) seems to bear this out. Research on microbial leaching was carried out jointly by the Andean countries to ensure economies of scale and reduce risks. However, regional cooperation in research of this kind presupposes an interest on the part of the participating countries, a potential market and existing or planned research facilities and qualified manpower. Groupings like the Andean Pact, the ASEAN, and more recently the new Association of South Asian Nations, provide an institutional framework within which joint R and D projects need to be explored. In addition to the possibility for pooling scarce resources, regional R and D organisations would be in a better position and have a greater will to investigate applications of new technologies to location-specific traditional activities.
A more fruitful area for regional cooperation may be the development of software in which the developing countries could wield a comparative advantage. Scope also exists for regional training facilities for the adaptation and utilisation of new technologies more than their development within developing countries.
Action at the national level can take several forms and is required on several fronts, namely, research and development strategies and policies, training, diffusion of innovations, their commercialisation and direct and indirect incentives for the optimal utilisation of known innovations.
1. Pioneer Projects
To give a practical orientation to the task, ACSTD has recommended the launching of pioneer projects. However, in spite of some discussion on the subject there is no clear consensus about the definition, nature and criteria of selection of these projects. For example, are pioneer projects identical to pilot and experimental projects? Are there any special features which distinguish them from pilot projects? The Los Bapanel assumed that pioneer projects were identical to pilot projects. While an element of uncertainty and the unknown is bound to be present in either, it is more likely to be greater when a pioneering uncharted territory is being trodden.
A. Selection criteria. We believe that a pioneer project in a blending strategy should satisfy the following criteria:
(a) It is relevant to the felt needs of the population;
(b) It has a positive (potential) impact on a large number of people especially among the poorer groups of the population;
(c) It makes a contribution to concrete problem-solving;
(d) It has potential for widespread distribution;
(e) It can be implemented without too much additional cost, institutional support or structural change. If a pioneer project continued to involve large sums of R and D and other costs, it is unlikely to have immediate or short-run benefits for the target groups;
(f) It should be concrete in the sense that it consists of:
(i) a well-defined number of activities;
(ii) a well-defined output within a specified timeframe;
(iii) a built-in framework of evaluation to be done on the basis of benchmark data and regular data collection;
(iv) well-defined objectives in the light of which evaluations or assessments can be made;
(v) specific target groups or potential beneficiaries of the project (e.g. small-scale urban poor, unemployed youth, or women).
B. A Socio-economic Assessment Framework. Although some efforts have been made at conceptualisation of a blending strategy, no systematic evaluation/assessment framework to assess/evaluate projects and experiments at present exists. With the exception of case studies on photovoltaic cells (see Chapters 18 and 19) it was not possible to make any systematic cost comparisons among alternative technologies. Neither was it possible to determine such socio-economic impacts as employment, training requirements and environmental effects. It was also difficult to separate the production processes and products in which blending had a major scope and those where it did not.
Nevertheless, for any blending strategy to be successful in future at both macro and micro levels, it is essential that a systematic framework of evaluation is designed. The following may be considered as some of the elements for such an evaluation:
(a) Minimum levels and types of skills required; length and duration of training and retraining;
(b) Alternative materials and other inputs needed to produce and apply new technologies locally;
(c) Market potential for the products and processes for which new technologies are used;
(d) Cost-reducing factors, e.g. organisational and administrative efficiency;
(e) Employment-generating effects;
(f) Social and environmental effects, e.g. health hazards and effects on social modes of behaviour;
(g) Spill-over effects for other economic activities or social aspects of life (social services, health care delivery, etc).7
The above elements can be presented in the form of a summary table/matrix such as Table 20.1:
Table 20.1 Technology Assessments/Evaluations
| || || |
Scale, product, skills, capital, energy, materials, etc.
Employment and health and occupational safety, behaviour modes
Consumer acceptability, complexity of administrative requirements, etc.
x indicates positive effect in terms of lower costs and energy saving, for example;
0 indicates negative effects in terms of displacement of labour, or occupational hazards.
The purpose of such a summary table is to provide easy reference for busy policymakers and executives who may, nevertheless, be able to evaluate at a glance a potentially adaptable new technology and refer it to competent colleagues for further study and perhaps possible adoption and implementation.
The above table does not give an exhaustive list of variables that should be taken into account in any evaluation. Instead, it gives an illustrative check-list of minimum variables in any comparative assessment or evaluation of concrete experiments and projects.
We assume that the technology and its application is technically proven. This is not always the case, as is shown by the example of photovoltaic cells in irrigation. Due to the low power, the pumps could not pump as much water per unit of time as diesel tubewell pumps. Therefore, technical factors, including the technical performance and meteorological and hydrological factors (a certain blending might work well in one area but not in others) should constitute an important part of any assessment.
Concerning the economic factors, let us take the case of scale of production, for example. An innovation will be more widely diffused in developing countries and thus will have a more positive effect if it requires large scale of output in order for it to be profitable. The impact of new products associated with new technologies depends on the extent to which they allow quality improvements to be purchased at lower prices and on whether they extend the range of choice or displace some or all existing products. These effects of new products are likely to depend largely on consumer tastes and acceptability, both of which, in turn, may often be highly culture-specific.
The input requirements of the new technologies (the economic variables) determine whether they save on these scarce resources (and hence lower costs) or whether they require more of these resources to produce each unit of output.
The employment impact (one of the social variables) will be positive or negative depending on whether the number of jobs that are directly and indirectly created, exceeds or falls short of the number of workers that are displaced by the innovation.
On occasion, new technologies may have a uniform (positive or negative) impact on the variables listed in the table. However, in most cases positive effects with respect to some of the variables will be offset by negative effects of others. The net impact of the technology on society will then depend on the weight or importance attached by society to the different variables. For instance, in an example in the table, a reduction in costs (and economy in energy use) is accompanied by a negative employment effect. Therefore, the overall impact depends on the weight society attaches to each which, in turn, depends on its goal.8
C. Scope and Limitations of Blending. In the choice of pioneer projects it should be kept in mind that not all cases of blending of new and traditional technologies would inevitably be feasible. Thus photovoltaic-powered irrigation might be feasible in a situation where soil hydrology allows shallow wells used by these systems to remain full throughout the year; in other areas with different soil conditions the same system would be unsuitable. Therefore, it is recommended that initial feasibility and scope of blending in concrete situations should be investigated before making a final selection of pioneer projects. Radnor et al.9 add another dimension to the selection and assessment of pioneer projects, that is, the degree of integration of new and traditional technology. According to them, some applications may have a major traditional component, yet they may not be feasible for reasons of cost and complexity, etc. For example, we noted above that photovoltaic cells are not yet feasible for high power applications due to high cost. Other applications may be quite feasible on grounds of cost and technical efficiency but may involve little integration with traditional activities. Therefore, an optimal mix of feasibility and degree of integration is desirable. Examples of feasible and integrative new technologies are:
- off-line microcomputer uses for agricultural management (crop production and livestock management, irrigation and pest-control) and for planning and decision-making;
- on-line uses of microprocessors to control irrigation, fermentation, moisture level in crop storage bins, village power supply systems and processes in traditional industries;
- photovoltaic electricity generation for low-power applications such as supplies to refrigerators in rural clinics and communal radio/TV sets;
- use of microorganisms for the extraction of minerals from ores and for waste treatment;
- use of DNA, cell fusion, bioreactor and other biotechnological and chemical techniques to breed new varieties of crops, improve agricultural productivity, provide cure for tropical diseases and offer alternative sources of energy for rural areas;
- use of natural-fibre reinforced composites in rural construction, and in the manufacture of village technologies such as wood-burning stoves, windmills and hydro-turbines;
- remote sensing used in conjunction with conventional methods of crop forecasting, hydrological surveys, prospecting for minerals, etc.
2. Reorientation of R and D
In most developing countries, R and D is concentrated on a small segment of modern industry, to the almost total neglect of the needs of the bulk of the population. The latter are engaged in small-scale businesses and economic activities and therefore lack effective demand and purchasing power to benefit from the results of R and D. Without the direct intervention of government to change the R and D priorities in favour of the smaller sectors of society, it is most unlikely that the rural and the urban poor will ever benefit from science and technology. The new technologies have an advantage in so far as they are easily miniaturised (particularly microelectronics) and utilised on a decentralised basis. For example, minicomputers costing as little as several hundred dollars, no larger than books and weighing 2 kilograms or less are now available.10 Once a new strain of an organism, or new enzyme, is produced and marketed it should be reasonably scale-neutral in its use. Similarly, small or medium-sized manufacturing firms can make use of new materials without necessarily altering the size of their operations.
It follows that the prevailing R and D strategy in developing countries needs to be reoriented in favour of small-scale operations if the strategy of blending new technologies is to succeed. This may require greater proportion of the limited R and D expenditures to be devoted to the needs of the rural and urban informal sectors; it may also involve the launching of a selected number of pilot projects to demonstrate the effectiveness of blending of new with traditional technologies.
3. Organisation of Production
Greater emphasis of R and D on smaller sectors alone would not be sufficient. It is also essential to change the product- and industry-mix in favour of small-scale operations. This can be done through active encouragement by the government in the form of: (i) protection; (ii) ensuring access to credit, foreign exchange, and other inputs; and (iii) removal of various discriminations against small firms.
The experience of the Prato textile industry (Chapter 8) underlines the importance of public authorities providing a package of services. It is unlikely that the new and emerging technologies can be successfully integrated without government support and infrastructural facilities like the teletext experiment proposed for Prato.
Whenever indivisibilities occur and production on a large scale is essential, the costs of technology utilisation could be shared through cooperative modes of production and through sub-contracting arrangements.11
4. Education and Training
Emphasis has to be placed on education and training in order to create an awareness of and a motivation for successful blending of new technologies with traditional activities. Given the very nature of new technologies, tasks would continually change; the expertise has therefore to be equipped to respond to these rapid changes. As a long-term strategy, students in educational institutions should be trained in new technology developments particularly as they relate to their specific disciplines. Thus, students of agriculture should be introduced, even at an early stage, to computer techniques and their possible applications to agricultural management; geology students should benefit from an understanding of remote-sensing techniques in addition to conventional methods of geological investigations; the principles of DNA and other recent advances in biotechnology should be included in the biology syllabus in universities and colleges. Given the short time required for curricula development, concrete efforts should be made in this direction.
In the short term, training/retraining of personnel undertaking traditional activities is required if blending is not to result in massive unemployment. Training would no doubt be easier in some cases than in others. Thus, in off-line computer applications, personnel could be trained in two weeks in basic data entry and analysis while other applications such as interpretation of satellite images would require much longer training. Also, while some new technologies lend themselves to training-by-doing, others require a considerable understanding of the basic concepts.
Specialised training at a high level would no doubt be required. This type of training should aim, first, at creating self-reliance in mastering the new techniques and their applications and, second, in the specification of systems suited to specific needs. Structures exist for specialised training in many of these techniques but more fellowships are required for developing countries to be able to benefit from these facilities.
Education of decision-makers involved in traditional activities is required in order to inject the necessary enthusiasm for adopting new technologies with potential advantages. In some cases, there is a basic lack of awareness of the existence of these new technologies and of their capabilities for blending with traditional ones. Thus, the availability or potential of photovoltaic cells to supply essential services in many rural areas, is unknown to many decision-makers. Even in cases where the knowledge exists, scepticism about the new technologies has hindered their use. It is for this reason that information on successful blending and demonstration projects would go a long way in educating these decision-makers.
Does blending occur only under highly anomalous conditions or rather commonly? Is it, or can it be, a general multi-sectoral phenomenon, or is it more likely to be confined to a specific enclave of a single segment of the economy? Can blending be common enough and sufficiently beneficial to warrant actions to encourage and support it? The case studies in Part II and this concluding chapter give sufficient evidence to answer these questions in the affirmative.
To conclude, blending of emerging and traditional technologies is a reality although in the short run their scope and feasibility of application may be limited. However, in the longer run their feasibility can be enhanced through cost reductions and simplification, etc. The extent to which integration with traditional activities and knowledge is possible will depend largely on an adequate provision for reorientation of R and D, education and training, and production structures. It will also depend heavily on the provision of an appropriate social and technical infrastructure.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. On this issue, see A.S. Bhalla and J. James: New technology revolution: Myth or reality for developing countries? in Greek Economic Review (Athens), (forthcoming).
2. Atul Wad, Michael Radnor and Barbara Collins: Microelectronics applications for traditional technologies: Possibilities and requirements, in E.U. von Weizser et al.: New frontiers in technology application: Integration of emerging and traditional technologies (Tycooly International Publishing, Dublin. 1983).
3. Bhalla and James, op.cit.
4. Juan Rada: The impact of microelectronics and information technology: Case studies in Latin America (UNESCO, Paris, 1982).
5. Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Monitor (UNIDO, Vienna, No. 2, June 1982).
6. Bhalla and James, op. cit.
7. Some of these points are based on personal communication with Ms. M. Sicat (Philippines), an ACSTD member.
8. These points are based on an unpublished note by A.S. Bhalla and J. James, ILO, Geneva, 1983.
9. Wad, Radnor and Collins, op. cit.
10. Ford S. Worthy: Here come the go-anywhere computers, in Fortune (New York). 17 Oct. 1983, pp. 97-98 and 100.
11. See A.S. Bhalla and J. James: An approach towards integration of emerging and traditional technologies, in von Weizser et al. New frontiers in technology application, op. cit.