Tej Kohli: Technology Transfer Can Close The Gap Between Rich And Poor

The Commitment To Development Index

The Global Development Index

Each year the Centre for Global Development (CDI) publishes a Commitment To Development Index which ranks 40 of the world’s most powerful countries on their dedication to policies that affect more than five billion people who are living in poor and developing nations.

Technology Transfer

One key area that the CDI index looks at is ‘exchange’. This is a measure of the way in which countries manage their international flows of capital, goods, services, ideas and people. Borders and tariffs in rich countries impede the economic and technology exchanges that could otherwise accelerate development and growth in poorer nations. So quickly spreading technology and technological knowledge could be a fast way to reduce poverty.

Technology And Inequality

If you have read Charles Kenny’s book Getting Better you will know about the huge gains in health across the world because of the spread of germ theory (ideas), hand-washing (norms), and antibiotics (technology) in the 20th century. But that same century was also characterised by historically high economic inequality between nations.

International Commitment To Technology Transfer

The efforts of countries like Australia and South Korea likely reflect the World Trade Organisations’ 1994 Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which obliges all developed countries to support technological advancement by helping to spread technologies to developing countries in return for global enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Developed country Members shall provide incentives to enterprises and institutions in their territories for the purpose of promoting and encouraging technology transfer to least-developed country Members in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base.

Under the TRIPS agreement countries are required to report on their compliance with Article 66.2, but studies suggest that the monitoring of these commitments has been wholly inadequate. For starters there is no widely accepted definition of ‘technology transfer’, so it should be of no surprise that technology transfer is hard to measure.

How To Improve Technology Transfer

It is inevitable that measuring a multidimensional concept like technology transfer is difficult. But that is also true of lots of things that we do manage to measure, such as learning. Therefore it would not be impossible to design indicators of technology transfer based entirely on the relatively widespread consensus about what is needed.

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Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli is a technologist and investor who is best known for curing blindness in the developing world as co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation