A Cry for Joint Venture Partners in African Nanotechnology

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

From across the globe in Business Daily Africa, comes this plea for awareness of how a joint venture can prevent the African continent from missing yet another technological wave.  What was poignant about this post was that this wasn’t about missing a business opportunity to reap big profits.  It wasn’t just about reaching into a new market.  It was about missing out on what the continent — not just a single business — needs in order to move forward.  As the authors, Macharia Waruingi and Jean Njoroge write, “Our future generation must be able to compete at the global level.” (emphasis mine)

Their premise is that nanotechnology is the next wave — industrialization and the information age being the prior two.  So how can Africa get on the nanotechnology bandwagon when it lags so far behind in industrialization and computerization?  When so many institutions shy away from introducing science into the educational curriculum?  Waruingi and Njoroge suggest finding the pockets of education in Africa where they have a fighting chance (naming the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology) to develop leadership in science.  However, those universities do not have the large sums of capital necessary to fund nanotechnology programs.

The solution:  create a joint venture with industry, whether with the university itself or a special purpose entity.  As they opine,

Formation of such a joint venture allows the school to contribute sweat, and of course intellectual equity. The business people and non-business individual investors contribute equity in form of paid in cash. International donor community and international investors contribute to the joint venture by purchasing stake in the venture.

A joint venture arrangement allows the school to gain access to cash for research, development, and commercialization of science, and technology. The joint venture can authorise shares of common stock, and have them traded in the open stock market such as the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Creation of such joint ventures to support science, technology and development is not out of the scope of imagination of Kenyans.

Now that would be a joint venture worth watching.

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