Federalism, Economic Development, Science and Technology for a United States of Africa: An Ubuntu-Clustering Approach

By Bangura, Abdul Karim | The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online), January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Federalism, Economic Development, Science and Technology for a United States of Africa: An Ubuntu-Clustering Approach


Bangura, Abdul Karim, The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)


Abstract

Ubuntu-clustering will be an innovative approach for a vibrant economic development policy based on the concept known as "cluster-building" couched within the tenets of ubuntu. An Ubuntu-cluster will initiate the networking of all participants in a value-added chain. The objective is to bundle the potentials and competencies for increasing the innovation power and competitiveness of the partners in a cluster. Given Internet technology, even business and government networking in rural areas can obtain a driving force. Internet technologies such as infrastructure, applications, platforms, and broadband can enable the business processes among companies, academic institutions, research institutes and governments to be networked. Ebusiness and E-government/E-administration cause fundamental structural changes of the private and public sectors.

Given this reality, there is a need for a continental economic technology approach to spur sustainable economic development in a United States of Africa. This need is taken into account in Ubuntu-clustering. The various geographical regions in Africa in an Ubuntu-cluster can be networked by processes that are more standardized and so able to be supported by online applications. The Ubuntu-cluster will require a central infrastructure and services. Knowledge management, E-learning, E-marketplaces, personnel management and E-government will be the main processes and services of an Ubuntu-cluster.

Introduction

This essay, as its title indicates, is an attempt to show how Ubuntu-clustering can be used to spark sustainable economic development in a United States of Africa. It begins with an explication of the tenets of ubuntu. This is followed by a discussion of the concept of "clusterbuilding." After that, an Ubuntu-clustering strategy for a United States of Africa is suggested. In the end, a conclusion is drawn. Before doing all this, however, it behooves me to note that the scientific notion of "clustering" is not new, although Ubuntu-clustering is.

Scientific clustering emerged as an important statistical application in the early 1980s as researchers studying similarly situated entities employed the Cluster Analysis methodology: a number of techniques that are utilized to create a classification. A clustering method is a multivariate statistical procedure that empirically forms "clusters" or groups of highly similar entities. It starts with a dataset containing information about a sample of entities and attempts to reorganize these entities into relatively homogenous "clusters" or groups (Aldenderfer and Blashfield, 1984:7).

Ubuntu Tenets

Based on the premise that it "brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world," the Ubuntu distribution of the Linux computer operating system is inspired by the concept. Former United States President Bill Clinton employed the term during his speech at the 2006 British Labour Party conference in the United Kingdom to explain why society is vital. The concept is the founding philosophy of the Ubuntu Education Fund, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) working with orphans and vulnerable children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Boston Celtics, champions of the 2008 National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States, have chanted ubuntu when breaking a huddle since the start of the 2007-2008 season. Ubuntu Cola is a soft drink made with Fairtrade sugar from Malawi and Zambia. Ubuntu is the theme of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (in the United States), whose logo includes the text "I in You and You in Me."

The concept of ubuntu is illustrated in the film In My Country about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission starring Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche. The concept also inspired the title of the documentary film I Am Because We Are directed by Nathan Rissman and produced by Raising Malawi founder Madonna (Wikipedia, 2009). So, what is all this talk about ubuntu? …

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