1. Our changing world
For 5000 years, our economic development was driven by agriculture. With the launch of the industrial revolution 150 years ago, countries that understood the value of Science and Technology educated their populations and adopted high-tech methods and became richer much faster than those that didn’t. The difference between what people produced in the richest and poorest countries increased dramatically. Since a couple of decades, the digital revolution has become the catalyst of a knowledge-driven economy and digital alphabet is today the world’s dominant language.
2. The revolution of the twenty first century
Our world and our language are about to change again with the development of nanotechnology. Computers run on a code based on 1s and 0s. But all life processes are determined by the genetic language written in a four-letter code, ATCG. Changing this code, just as changing the code in a floppy disk or on a CD, will change the message, the product, and the outcome. For example, substituting a single letter can lead to cancer or defective haemoglobin in humans. With digital and genetic revolutions converging toward a molecular revolution, people who understand the next dominant language, i.e. the genetic alphabet and the language in which God created life, are likely to live healthier, longer and richer. Some of the world’s largest companies like Monsanto, Dupont, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline have launched themselves into life sciences. And even cosmetic companies are hiring molecular biologists.
3. The two options (proof of principle for education)
50 years ago, Cameroon, Ghana, Uganda, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan were poor countries with comparable level of development. They had 2 options: remain poor or educate their populations. The 3 Asian countries invested primarily in their own populations, promoted competitiveness, scientific literacy, use of scientific knowledge and digital language, knowledge-driven economy, political and economic stability, networks and attraction of the world’s best brains. In the African countries, the economic development remained natural resource-based and today, as their populations grow, they have to produce more and more to earn the same income they had 50 years ago. The consequence is that, today, the economic development difference between Singapore and Cameroon is several hundred to one.
4. The lesson
To alleviate poverty in Africa in general and Cameroon in particular, investment must be primarily in educating people, making the new generations smarter, promoting networks and the use of new knowledge. Just as Winston Churchill said: The empires of the future are the empires of the minds.