African engineers: no sweat?
Shortly after the institution in January 1972 of the Expertise Consultancy Middle (TCC) on the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Expertise (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, the director was explaining the method of acceptable know-how to a visiting American professor and to his spouse. First, he mentioned, there was a necessity to review applied sciences already in use at grassroots enterprises, after which introduce extra superior know-how achievable inside current materials provide constraints. uncooked supplies, infrastructure, market dimension and preferences, and entrepreneurial abilities. Usually this may be achieved by adopting or adapting historic, extra labor-intensive know-how utilized in Western nations at a time when manufacturing models and their markets have been a lot smaller. ‘Oh no!’ the professor’s spouse retorted, “I do not suppose these folks needs to be subjected to a Victorian period of sweaty work.” On the time, it appeared unattainable to give you a sweat-free path to a contemporary technological society, however through the years, the dream of the great matron has change into increasingly achievable.
It was definitely going to be very tough to introduce a Victorian period of sweaty work into Ghana. It was clear even in 1972 that Ghana would by no means advance as quickly as Malaysia, fashioned from different British colonies which gained independence in the identical 12 months of 1957. Economists have undoubtedly recognized many contributing elements to the disparity within the fee of financial progress. , however one distinction is obvious: the price of labor. Multinational corporations established manufacturing models in Southeast Asian nations to make the most of low labor prices and Malaysia was one of many first nations to get wealthy from this phenomenon. Ghana has at all times been unlikely to learn on this means. Overseas corporations working in Ghana within the Seventies complained that low labor productiveness made their operations unsustainable, and several other of them closed. Research carried out by the TCC on the time indicated that labor productiveness was about 3 times decrease in Ghana than in India. Evidently the professor’s spouse had nothing to fret about; Ghanaians had an innate resistance to onerous work.
Few folks within the Seventies might have predicted the digital revolution that swept the world over the following three a long time. Anybody visiting Ghana as we speak who knew the nation within the Seventies is instantly struck by the seemingly common scourge of earache. Everyone seems to be clutching a cellphone. Out on the streets of cities and villages little or no has modified, however inside each workplace a private laptop has changed the previous typewriters. One marvels not a lot on the know-how itself as at the truth that it appears to be universally out there in a low-income nation. It may be left to economists to elucidate, however the truth that it’s inexpensive is past doubt. Has the exploitation of the electron opened a window of alternative in the direction of an period of wealth with out sweat?
Computer systems and cell phones maintain nice promise for speedy communication and entry to data that are important stipulations for financial progress, however in manufacturing industries the technique of manufacturing have to be equally superior. Within the Seventies, superior industries in Western nations have been utilizing know-how on a really giant scale that the daddy of acceptable know-how, Dr. EF Schumacher, rightly identified in Small is Lovely, was inappropriate for many growing nations, not solely due to its excessive price but in addition as a result of it was designed to serve a lot bigger markets. Nevertheless, as electronically managed manufacturing services have been launched, many developed into small models that might be mixed in giant numbers in giant factories, but in addition used singly or in small numbers in small and medium-sized companies. The pattern continues and the price of CNC machining facilities and robotic manipulators remains to be unaffordable for most simple industrialists. On the similar time, progress is speedy and additional price reductions are seemingly.
Pc managed machines will likely be highly regarded in Suame Journal, Kumasi and all primary engineering corporations in Ghana. Machines that produce 24/7, want no wages, attend no funerals, and steal no instruments or supplies appear to current a panacea to all their ills. It’s to be hoped that if this woman’s dream comes true, sufficient financial and social preparations will likely be made to make sure hassle-free employment for all licensed technicians and artisans.
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