Wednesday, April 24, 2024

AS I SEE THINGS: Technology has key role in new world order

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THE?ONGOING?UNREST in several parts of the Middle East and North Africa are clear reminders that the world is absolutely different from a few years ago.
From what has transpired thus far, it is rather difficult to argue against the theory that a new world order is in the making. What form this new order will take and what implications it will have for us here in the Caribbean is not very clear at this moment. What is clear, though, is that technological change will play a major role in the reconfiguration of the existing international order.
As uncertain as the future looks at the moment, a new development with respect to technology has emerged and it may very well be a strong hint of what lies ahead.
In international business circles, it has long been accepted that technological advances have played a major role in the growth of globalization. Improvements in technology have made it much easier to move goods, services, and factors of production from one country to another.
In the economic development literature, technological change is now considered a key component of economic growth and development.  This is in sharp contrast to what obtained before when advances in technology were deemed exogenous to the economic system.
Hence, unlike the past when few felt it important to study the economic sources and determinants of technological change, today these issues are given tremendous prominence, particularly in the endogenous growth literature.
Individuals in the Middle East and North Africa are also recognizing the power of technology and technological advances and are making maximum use of them in forcing change in the management of their countries.
Amazingly, a significant amount of use is being made of Facebook in organizing people and getting messages out locally, regionally, and worldwide. The widespread success that has been witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt are clear indications of the power that the medium has to galvanize change.         
What is particularly exciting about the manner in which existing technologies are being used to achieve desired outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa is that on many occasions in the past, developing countries have been criticized for not making better use of available technologies to generate efficiencies in production and increase output in their domestic economies.  
A major aspect of the criticism had to do with not adapting technologies developed for advanced economies to the needs of smaller countries with different economic structures and resource endowments.
The experience in countries such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt illustrate quite clearly how an existing technology can be optimally utilised to achieve an objective that would otherwise have been extremely difficult to accomplish. In essence, a technology that was designed for social networking is now being fully utilised to create political and hopefully economic change.
The events that continue to unfold in the Middle East and North Africa should therefore serve as a reminder to us in the Caribbean that once we set ourselves clear objectives for the transformation of our economies, it is quite possible to adapt existing technologies to assist us in meeting those goals, even if the technologies were originally intended for different purposes. The sooner we come to this recognition, the better.   

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