n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Science and technology activities in the emerging economies : options for Nigeria

Volume 5, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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This study identifies how two emerging economies developed science and technology capabilities through science and technology (S&T) education/training, research and experimental development. This was done in order to recommend policy options for Nigeria for the development of its industrial sector and improvement of its global competitiveness. The study used secondary data sources. Data were sourced from different published sources, the Internet and company records. Two Asian countries (China and South Korea) were purposively selected for this study due to their global contribution in the areas of electronics and semiconductors, coupled with their volume of exports. The study showed that China acquired S&T knowledge mainly through research and experimental development. This was achieved by increasing the amount of GDP allocated to R&D by 87.5% within 17 years to overtake the USA, Japan and South Korea. Also, within this period, China grew their scientific and technological research output by 16.5% annually. China's science and technology education/training approach increased its annual doctorate degree holders by 18.7%, above Japan (2.9%), Germany (1.0%) and the USA (0.4%); this was achieved by sponsoring a large number of PhD students in the USA within this reference period. About the same time, China increased the percentage of GNP allocated to S&T education between 1975 and 1990 from 2.2% and to 4.5% between 1975 and 1985; this made China's economy grow by 9% between 1979 and 1990 and by 12% between 1990 and 2010. These efforts, amongst others, made China the world's second largest economy with 8.5% of the world's GDP and the highest contributor to world growth, closely followed by the USA, India, Korea and Brazil. South Korea, on the other hand, developed their S&T knowledge through research and experimental development skills but indigenously by initiating, imitating, improving and innovating on knowledge from external sources. This strategy worked so well that Korean firms overtook their pioneers in the USA and Japan within 12 years in the semiconductor industry. Samsung (a Korean company) exceeded Sony (a Japanese company) in 2005 to become the world's largest producer of electronics, and surpassed Motorola in 2007 to become the world's second largest mobile phone maker. In 2009, Samsung became the world's largest technology company with sales of KRW139 trillion globally, thereby overtaking Hewlett-Packard (USA) and Siemens (Germany); while only joining the industry in the 1980s, Samsung concentrated efforts on R&D investments in electronics and building core competence in the semiconductor industry. In conclusion, the study found that Nigeria can adopt and adapt any combinations of these strategies. Though some of these strategies cannot be directly deployed in Nigeria due to the peculiarity of Nigeria, which is characterized by vision volatility which in turn aggravates policy precariousness. There are other potential limiting factors like social acceptability, limited infrastructure and poverty level that would influence which policy strategy fits well. The study ends by recommending strategic implications for practice by the industry while advising government on policy.

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