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New Book Alert: Harnessing Nanotechnology for Sustainable Development in Africa

Editors: Hailemichael Teshome Demissie, Cosmas Milton Obote Ochieng, Guillermo Foladori and Desalegn Mengesha (ACTS Press, University of Gondar Press and STIC)

It is now the least contested view that technology has made people wealthier, healthier and wiser. This progress has not been without the iatrogenic effects of technology. Development, if untamed, could bring about existential risk to humanity and hence the rise of the concept of ‘sustainable development’. 

The simultaneous pursuit of the sustainability trio, viz, economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity or, in the SDGs lingo, the needs of ‘People, Planet, Prosperity’, is the wicked challenge that humanity has yet to resolve.  Technology has been providing solutions to diffuse this tension between the conflicting ideas of sustainable development and this has been recognised in the proposals of the SDGs. Platform technologies like nanotechnology, biotechnology, 3D printing, big data, artificial intelligence and other emerging fields of technology are offering promises and delivering results towards achieving sustainability. The book, perhaps the first of its kind in Africa, focusses on nanotechnology and its promises and risks to sustainable development in Africa.

The project on this book was launched at a nanotechnology policy masterclass held at the University of Gondar, in Gondar, Ethiopia, in August, 2015. The masterclass was organised by the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and the University of Gondar (UoG) in collaboration with the Science, Technology and Information Centre (STIC). It was attended by researchers, policy makers and representatives from funding agencies from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, the African Union and the UN ECA.  The theme of the masterclass focused on the policy challenges of nanotechnology research and development in Africa. The book is the collective output of the resource persons who ran the sessions of the masterclass.    The chapters in the book are contributions by territorially diverse leading experts in a remarkable range of fields. The editors have the privilege to work with scholars from Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mexico, the United Kingdom, US and Canada with affiliations to, among others, King’s College London, UK, Autonomous University of Zacatecas, México, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Stony Brook University, New York, USA, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya and our own University of Gondar.  Though the countries specifically referred to in the overall coverage are very few, we hope that the rest of African countries can benefit from the framework emerging from the discussions in the book drawing lessons from the developments in the countries referred to in the various chapters.



The role of technology for sustainable and equitable development is emphatially underscored by the UN Sustainable Development Goal 17.8 . This book puts flesh on the barebones of the SDGs Declaration by identifying nanotechnology as one of the central enabling infrastructural technology. The book is a must read for those trying to make sense of the revitalization of the role of technology in development in the 21st century. 

Dr Bitange Ndemo, Associate Professor, University of Nairobi formerly Permanent Secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communication

Nanotechnology spans several fields within the natural and social sciences. The editors have done an impressive job bringing together scholars from diverse disciplines and disparate locations. As an interdisciplinary engagement, the book is a trailblazing project in Africa and will certainly inspire other works of similar nature. It will be an indispensable resource for policy makers, researchers in the social and natural sciences and even private sector actors that may employ the technology for economic and commercial purposes.

Prof Teketel Yohannes, Academic Vice-President, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University (AASTU) Board Member of the African Materials Research Society


Book launch events will be taking place in London, UK in August, and in Addis and Nairobi in October. A pre-launch event has already taken place in Gondar in the presence of His Excellency, Dr Eng Getahun Mekuria, Minister of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.