UN says Poor Countries Need Technology to Prosper

The world's poorest countries need technology and know-how to prosper and donors should shift aid towards science and research, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on Thursday.

It said international donors needed to boost contributions towards technology and training to help economically weak nations move away from raw commodities and low-skill manufacturing.

In its Least Developed Countries Report 2007, the agency said agricultural techniques to boost crop yields and quality were vital in poor countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, where increasing numbers of farm workers were moving to urban areas.

Less than 4 percent of the World Bank's overall lending has gone to science and technology projects in the last 25 years, UNCTAD said.

"There is a lack of balance between the governance and social issues and technological issues," UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told a news conference.

He said while poor countries in Asia, such as Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal and Cambodia, were beginning to shift towards more technologically-focused development projects, many African nations had lagged.

"The LDCs (least developed countries) in Africa are more limited because of the confinement of their investment to more extractive industries," he said.

Supachai said countries needed to implement more measures to keep more mining and energy gains at home to foster broad-based economic growth.

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