Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Economies based on technology do better – Emeagwali

Nigerian pride in supercomputing, Dr. Phillip Emeagwali, has said that economies with focus on technology deployment are bound to do better than their oil-rich counterparts.

Emeagwali who made this disclosure at a keynote speech in Arizona while dwelling on ‘Around the Globe, Technology Widens Rich-Poor Gap,’ pointed out that globally, technology seem to continue to widen the gap between the rich and poor in any given society.

He agreed that some countries like the United States (US) has made several billions from oil and has even fuelled the economic stability, and has also become the bane of existence.

But he was quick to remark that it for some, “it is a curse that has caused poverty and corruption, but for others it is an essential source of untold wealth and power.”

He pointed out that as the gap between rich and poor countries continues to expand, “it is clear that intellectual capital and technology rule the world, and that natural resources such as oil, gold, and diamonds are no longer the primary determinants of wealth.”

According to him, surprisingly, nations with few natural resources demonstrate greater economic growth rates than OPEC countries.

“Japan’s economic growth, driven by technological superiority, outpaces that of Saudi Arabia; South Korea is growing faster than oil-rich Nigeria; and Taiwan’s economy has moved well beyond that of oil-rich Venezuela,” Emeagwali asserted.

He noted that although the US and Norway are also rich in oil, yet their staggering economic growth come from intellectual capital.

“In reality, it is not money but intellectual capital that drives prosperity. More important, perhaps, is the reality that poverty is driven and sustained by a lack of intellectual capital,” he said.

Striking economic gap that persists between rich and poor nations, he said, has increased sevenfold over the past centuries to what is now an all-time high.

“The accumulation of intellectual capital by rich nations has helped broaden this gap because it has enabled them to control technology and collect hidden taxes from less affluent nations,” he disclosed.

For instance, Nigeria pays a 40 per cent “royalty” tax on its petroleum revenues to foreign oil companies that are ripping out its family jewels - the huge store of wealth in its oilfields.

Describing it as a shocking reality, Emeagwali added that the deep oil reserves laid down by mother nature millions of years ago and nurtured through the millennia in Africa have been whittled away within decades.

And, for the dubious privilege of surrendering its natural resources forever, Nigeria is required to pay half its petroleum revenue in the form of “royalties” to the rich kids on the global block, the United States and the Netherlands.

“Today, half the world’s population - three billion people - live on an average of $500 a year. In contrast, Bill Gates earns $500 every second,” Emeagwali noted.

He added that by controlling technology and taxing computer users, Gates has become wealthier than each of the 70 poorest nations on earth.

“While Bill Gates is the new millennium’s Prince of Technology, he is by no means the first to have taken on the huge potential offered by the realm of technology. The Romans used roads and military technology to expand their empire. And, for centuries, Britain ruled a quarter of the earth due to its unparalleled ability to command maritime technology and conquer the Seven Seas,” Emeagwali said.

Just as in the same way, the US has embraced its technological supremacy, both offensively and defensively, to build its own global empire without a physical presence in any of its “colonies.”

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