Relevance of Nanotechnology to Africa: Synthesis, Applications, and Safety

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Abstract

In this chapter, two nanotechnology-based applications relevant to Africa in promoting sustainability and achievement of the Millennium development goals (MDGs) are presented. The applications comprise the provision of therapeutic treatment of diseases (HIV/AIDS and malaria) and the treatment of contaminated water through purification, remediation, and disinfection process to promote access to clean water to millions of African inhabitants without clean drinking water. Extensive examination of the available scientific literature suggests that nanotechnology can potentially improve the provision of health and water services in the African continent. While the authors agree these benefits are of great relevance to the continent, the chapter gives insights into the concerns related to the potential risks posed by nanotechnology-based products both to humans and other ecological systems. In addition, the chapter seeks to outline the chemistry underpinning the development of nanotechnology and its relevance in achieving sustainable development within the context of developmental challenges in Africa. Finally, as the future socioeconomic status will be mostly defined by nanotechnology capabilities, Africa should be alert to these changes and take advantage, particularly, at this early development phase of nanotechnology development.