Obwoya Kinyera Sam
Professor, Executive Board Member, National Planning Authority, Uganda
Knowledge is a fundamental catalyst to economic development. The fact is that the things we buy, and the methods we use to make them, rely more and more on knowledge, and less on trial and error. Thus, the development of a nation therefore hugely depends on what it knows, and consequently will determine how it develops. Indeed, knowledge, not capital, is the key to sustained economic growth and improvements in human well-being. Access to financial, technical, and medical knowledge would improve the health and living standards of the poor. Knowledge is particularly important for planning for development. I can’t imagine how planning and the push for development would be without knowledge. National development is most effective if the planning process is evidence based. And therefore, approaching development from a knowledge perspective — that is, adopting policies to increase both types of knowledge, know-how and knowledge about attributes — can improve people’s lives in myriad ways besides higher incomes. Developing economies differ from developed ones not only because they have less capital but because they have less knowledge.
For planning and development, evidence and data (Knowledge) are particularly crucial on three fronts. First, they provide a basis for strategic prioritization of development agenda. Second, they answer how this prioritization and agenda can be implemented efficiently. Third, they also help us track our progress and see if there is need for correction.
As such, increasing attention to knowledge demonstrates that its possession and application is a catalyst for any development and progress. More importantly, the Uganda’s National Development Plans are founded on knowledge. Indeed, behind the plans are evidence-based papers that informed the strategic direction. The poverty reduction, good health, technological development and clean water all depend on a systematic and integrated approach to knowledge.