This essay will discuss the differences between LEDC's and MEDC's and if technology can be used to close the development gap.
Closing the Technology gap is fundamental to closing the development gap
This essay will discuss the differences between LEDC’s and MEDC’s and if technology can be used to close the development gap
The development gap is the difference between the wealth of the different countries both economically and in terms of quality of life. The wealthiest countries are called MEDC’s (More Economically Developed Countries), the poorest LLEDC’s (Least Less Economically Developed Countries). This can be measured using certain scales, for example, GNP, life expectancy, death rate, birth rate or literacy rate. This table illustrates the development gap using GNP
Table 1: A few examples of countries and their GDP per capita 1996
The development gap can be shown between countries, for example Armenia and the UK, where Armenia earns US$ 730 per person the UK earns US$ 18700.
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) can also be used, where as GNP shows Gross National Product, money made by companies based in that country with offices all over the world, GDP only shows money made inside the countries borders. This table shows a few examples of GDP per capita:
Table 2: A few examples of countries and their GDP per capita 1996
The development gap has been increasing over the past 30 years; this is due to the fact that many believe MEDC’s are exploiting them. Raw materials are taken at very low prices and manufactured goods are sold back to them at very high levels, which they cannot afford. The UN reported in July that 54 countries are worse off now then they were 10 years ago and are unlikely to meet targets for 50 years. In 31 of the top priority countries progress towards these goals has stalled or even dropped. It said that for some sub Saharan African countries it could take until 2129 before they get universal primary education.
Another example is the AIDS drug crisis. New drugs are being widely used in the industrialised world but not in the developing, in Western Europe 570,000 people have aids and only 8,000 died in 2002, in North Africa 550,000 people have aids and 37,000 people died from it in 2002, this is due to the fact that the drugs are expensive and difficult to administer
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Table 3: Showing the difference between Africa and Europe and their AIDS survival rates 2002
This is a clear example of how technology is a big influence in reducing the development gap. Also that even though more people in western Europe have HIV less die from it a year due to the availability of drugs as the developing countries are being discriminated against.
Fig 1: This shows the different GNI per capital by nation
The Technology gap is the difference in the amount of high technology products in countries. This is caused due to the cost to purchase these items and the costs to run them, for example, over 2 billion people have never made a phone call let alone checked email online. In Tanzania costs to run the Internet are over 5 times the cost in Europe and the US due to phone line connection costs and the cost of a computer and electricity. The internet was originally seen to close the technology gap but now business leaders fear that it will only widen it. Peter Armstrong of oneworld.net stated that ‘the internet can create a knowledge gap between those with the skills and access to the technology needed to make use of the web.’
There is a close link between Development and Technology gaps as it is seen that technology can be used to close the development gap.
Fig 2: This shows a few examples of how technology has already helped close the Development Gap
At a continental scale Asia’s NIC’s have successfully used technology to close the development gap. Countries like South Taiwan and Singapore are a few example of first generation NIC’s. These countries were fortunate when Japanese Multi National companies first decided to locate abroad in order to find cheaper labour. They looked for the most developed of their neighbouring countries, also the physical infrastructure and skill levels that the Japanese countries required. Taiwan produces hi-tech computer parts; such as laser drives and motherboards, they pay low wages and no tax so companies maximise their profits. Soon after other countries from the developed world started looking for cheaper labour when they saw what the Japanese had done. These included the USA, the UK and other European countries. After a time when the NIC’s realised they were being exploited, wages rose and companies looked elsewhere. Now India and the Philippines are classed as third generation NIC’s thanks to the west looking to save money.
At a global scale, India has used technology to develop its car industry. Madras is a focal point for car manufacture; Hyundai and Ford have moved their plants here and now 500,000 cars are made in these factories alone. Gujarat and Maharastra are attracting investment for their heavy industry and modern ports. This has not helped the whole Indian population, only the people that live in urbanareas of recent redevelopment. In the rural state of Uttar Pradesh the Net domestic product person for 1998-99 is between $210 and $299, in comparison with Punjab that has a NPP of over $480, in comparison with the USA this is very low but it is a move in the right direction.
On a local scale, in Nepal the development gap is being closed through the use of appropriate technology. In the remotest parts of the county people struck down with illness have little to no chance of getting medical aid. The ITDG, a NGO, developed a bicycle ambulance that consists of a bike and ‘stretcher on wheels’ trailer to take them to medical centres. This has helped to get the medical care needed to all the population and the government has also realised that more medical attention is needed.
Whereas at a regional scale, the development into AIDS has been closed in Brazil through pharmaceutical technology. The Swiss giant Roche gave into the Brazilian government pressure in 2001 and agreed to sell the tablets at 40% less then retail price so that they could be issued for free. Brazil has an estimated 597,000 patients with HIV, the highest Latin America country. It can already produce 8 of the 12 tablets required to treat the disease, but the other 4 are patented and thus illegal to try and copy. This is a step forward for the areas of the developing world that suffer from the wide spread of AIDS. Brazil offers the AIDS drugs for free as part of its aggressive prevention campaign and thanks to this it has managed to keep the infection rate below 1%. In the past 5 years this has cut the AIDS death rate by half and reduced the number in hospital by 80%.
Technology is not always needed to close the development gap. Where countries fall into political instability, for example, Iraq, it can be pulled out through raising funds either from the World Bank or NGO’s.
The development gap can be closed through education, health services and safe water supplies. These are more long term solution but they are a positive way of looking and will help the country get itself out of debt.
An example of how a country can narrow the development gap is Tanzania. They are doing this by reducing poverty. NGO’s are helping in the development of the country through bottom up projects, Farm Africa are helping the poorest in the country through village planning, goat breeding and animal health scheme. Water Aid is another NGO; it estimates that 70% of the rural population of Tanzania does not have access to protected water. It provides hand pumps and tools to communities so that they can support themselves.
Another example of political stability is in South Africa. In 1948 the white Afrikaners decided to protect their language, culture and heritage from the blacks, this was done by dividing the land into four Plate 1: A picture of areas forming the Apartheid, they made mix marriage illegal and made a new water well all contact between whites and the others also illegal. The whites lived in Tanzania in the areas closest to the city of Cape Town. The apartheid ended in 1993 and has taken a long time for attitudes to change. Technology cannot help or hinder the closing of the developing gap as it is caused by people’s attitudes.
Table 4: The discrimination by white people in South Africa during the Apartheid 1989
Fair trade does help primary producing countries, for example, cocoa-producing countries. These are exploited by developed countries and are having to pay unaffordable prices for imported manufactured goods. Unfortunately if disease or a frost hits, they can wipe out the whole seasons crop. Fair trade has helped primary producers to close the development gap through making more money for the work they do.
Jubilee 2000 is a charity set up in the 1990's to try and persuade the G7 leaders to cancel third world debt as countries are having to spend more of their money on repaying the world bank then on getting themselves out of poverty. The campaign in during the late 20th and early 21st centuries led to $100billion of debt being cancelled.
In conclusion I agree that technology can help to close the development gap. The majority of improvements that have been made are due to technology; this is evident because there is obviously an improvement from the previous situations.
Improvements in electronics have lead to the major component producers relocating their plants in developing countries due to cheap labour; this has helped the developing countries to increase the income per person and therefore close the development gap.
Other ways of closing the development gap can be just as important; for example the development in the treatment of AIDS has been fundamental to closing the development gap. AIDS is one of the world's biggest killers and a cure needs to be made available to all, not just the wealthy MEDC's who can afford the research.
Technology should be placed high on a list of methods to combat the development gap; if you give countries technology, such as cheap access to the internet, then they can make the best out of it they can and help themselves.
Some countries have been more successful at closing the development gap due to their location, the majority of RIC's are in the East and are close to high-tech countries such as India, they have accepted the help from Multi national companies and are using them to help themselves.
Closing the technology gap will work most effectively at a national scale, if the government gives incentives to buy high tech products and the price of these is reduced then the country can pull itself out of trouble.