Pandemics such as the coronavirus, HIV and Aids among other conditions have unmasked the complex web of interconnectedness among nations
Throughout history, transactional disasters such as terrorism, infectious diseases, social reconstructions through technology and insurgencies of rebellious movements as well as world wars have threatened sovereignty of nations. Pandemics such as the coronavirus, HIV and Aids among other conditions have unmasked the complex web of interconnectedness among nations and the fact that in spite of the anarchic nature of the international system, no nation can exist in isolation.
From a realist perspective, the anarchic nature of the international system has necessitated nations to not only seek ways of survival but also develop mechanisms of re-organising the global structures in the international society with the aim of leveraging towards being the global policeman, solution provider consequently the global government.
In the quest for this global dominance by reorganisation of the international society, nations have used several tools, among them international structures and momentary sectoral crisis.
Whichever the structure or the crisis there is often a trigger, the trigger over the years has had a strong anchorage on basic science. The investment in science as a trigger has been historically effective because its philosophical nature which makes it less understood by majority of the world population. Science makes the world bigger than many people especially when it comes to understanding processes in their small as the micros, the picos or the nanos. These extremely small phenomena are too philosophical in nature and therefore few people have the critical mind to think about them.
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Yet in spite of this, whoever understands the Schrodinger well knows what problems it can cause or what crisis it can be used to create and the solutions for the crisis or problems created by the same. This understanding enables men and women of intellect to dangle the human race in whichever way they deem fit by coming up with complex war machines, chemicals, diseases as well as drugs and technology. In this information and knowledge edge, science is therefore a significant tool for foreign policy and is now widely used to embed global dominance and power balance.
In view of the complex web of interconnectedness, interdependence and the emergence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) developing countries have a call moment to rethink of the place of science in foreign policy decisions and domestic decision making processes, investment, development and the role of science in regulating transnational engagements.
Countries that will survive or that will invert the concept of underdevelopment as well as dependency are those that will lay strong emphasis on research and development on science with a view of developing home grown solutions for transnational problems that find their way within borders.
The reactionary approach to crisis has over time resulted into panic of the public which ends up having a huge effect in the economy. When businesses shut down, imports reduced, food become scarce and therefore as the public begin over purchasing from the stores the high demand results into high prices and high inflation.
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The question that comes into play in this scenario is how resilient the economies of the south is to fortify itself from the panic or instant over purchase resulting from threats emerging out of the borders. How much self-reliant are the counties of the south from food imports?
Over to the current crisis emerging from the coronavirus, African governments must seek measures that go beyond medical interventions. Other than prevention of further transmission which would be key in ensuring that isolation facilities are not exhausted, there is need to try and engage local researchers in coming up with tentative local curative mechanism. The curative intervention will help in case the prevention of further transmission fails.
It is also imperative for the authorities to thoughtfully manage the panic from the public as it has potential of reversing the gains in economic growth as well as interfering with people to people diplomacy.
The management of the public would be best done by ensuring that the correct information is with the people and that all other sources of information is not necessarily subverted but is rather sieved out by the truth. Its also important to look at the long term socio-economic impact of some of the interventions being employed considering the national interest of the countries as well as the social construction.
In summary, this moment is a call for the developing countries to critically view science as key in diplomacy, key in development, key in reducing dependency and key in advancing national interest abroad.
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African governments must view science as a partner for development invest heavily in the fields of science if its to stamp her authority in the community of nations. Globalisation will only be of essence to the south if and only if their contribution to the international society goes beyond market to products and services.
-Dr Churchill Saoke is an expert in governance, international relations and is director for Alumni and International Students Office at JKUAT