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South Africa scores high in global review of "most innovative" countries on the continent

South Africa scores high in global review of "most innovative" countries on the continent [Image: www.forbes.com]

Mauritius (49), South Africa (60) and Senegal (84) are the three most innovative nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Global Innovation Index 2015 (GII) released today, while Kenya (92), Mozambique (95) and Uganda (111) top the rankings of low-income countries in the region.

A number of low-income economies are innovation achievers - economies that outperform their peers for their level of gross domestic product - and performed increasingly well at levels previously reserved for the lower-middle-income group. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out, with Rwanda (94), Mozambique and Malawi (98) now performing like middle-income economies. In addition, Kenya (92), Mali (105), Burkina Faso (102) and Uganda are generally outperforming other economies at their level of development.

Establishing regulatory, legal and business structures that effectively promote innovation is crucial to economic growth in Africa.

That’s why later this year African heads of state, government ministers and top officials from the United Nations, African Union and private sector groups will gather to chart a plan for boosting the uptake of intellectual property tools to help stimulate economic and social development across Africa.

“Africa has a great tradition of innovation and creativity…and innovation is a central driver of economic growth, development and better jobs,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “It is the key for firms to compete successfully in the global marketplace.”

He said, “Intellectual property is an indispensable mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets – IP rights create a secure environment for investment in innovation and provide a legal framework for trading in intellectual assets.”

The African Ministerial Conference 2015: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa  will take place between November 3-5, Dakar, Senegal, with H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal; H. E. Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius; World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry and other senior UN officials; African Union (AU) Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and other regional officials;

Some 60 government ministers are expected to attend.

The GII 2015 looked at “Effective Innovation Policies for Development” indicating new ways that emerging-economy policymakers could boost innovation and spur growth by building on local strengths and ensuring the development of a sound national innovation environment.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said, “Innovation holds far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth in countries at all stages of development. However, realizing this promise is not automatic. Each nation must find the right mix of policies to mobilize the innate innovative and creative potential in their economies.”

Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States of America are the world’s five most innovative nations, while China (42), Malaysia (32), Vietnam (52), India, (81) Jordan (75), along with Kenya, and Uganda are among a group of countries outperforming their economic peers.

The GII, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), surveys 141 economies around the world, using 79 indicators to gauge both innovative capabilities and measurable results.

As a whole, the group of top 25 performers - all high income economies - remained largely unchanged from past editions, illustrating that the leaders’ performance is hard to challenge for those that follow.

The GII 2015 found that a well-coordinated innovation policy plan with clear targets and a matching institutional set-up had proven to be a tool for success. GII analysis showed that increasing business sophistication business linkages to science and its institutions, foreign subsidiaries, and the recruitment of scientists is often the single biggest challenge in developing economies. While significant resources are often devoted to attracting foreign multinationals and investment, developing country policymakers should consider how to capture and maximize positive spillovers to the local economy.

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