Recent data released by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics(UIS) indicates that the global technology gap has been shrinking from 2002 to 2007, but the poorest countries still lag far behind.
According to a recent article on scidev.net by its director David Dickson, global trends indicate that emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil are accelerating their domestic research capacities. China alone has increased the number of its researchers by more than three-fourths and has more than doubled its R&D spending.
These countries’ growth has helped pull the developing world as a whole to growth levels which are three times those of the developed world. But areas like Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced more moderate growth, with the number of researchers increasing only 18% vis-a-vis total population growth, and Arab states’ R&D contributions are actually falling. The least developed countries, which host 12% of the population, have less than one percent of the world’s researchers.
If these research trends continue, countries such as India and China will become global leaders by the year 2025, at which point they are expected to account for more than one-fifth of total R&D expenditures.
And the technology gaps are still quite profound. The developed world has only one-fifth of the population, yet accounts for three-quarters of total spending. While part of this discrepancy might be the result of incomplete or non-existent data reporting on the part of certain developing countries, it also indicates the need for continued efforts to bridge the technology gaps which still exist globally.