Cape Town - South Africa is the second most innovative nation in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Global Innovation Index 2015 (GII) released on Friday.
While South Africa ranks 60 on the index, Mauritius claimed the crown as most innovative nation in sub-Saharan Africa with its 49th spot.
Other African countries that made the list include Senegal (84), Kenya (92), Mozambique (95) and Uganda (111).
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 business school and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), surveys 141 economies around the world, using 79 indicators to gauge both innovative capabilities and measurable results.
The index found that a number of low-income economies are innovation achievers. That means these economies outperform their peers for their level of gross domestic product (GDP) and performed increasingly well at levels previously reserved for the lower-middle-income group.
Sub-Saharan Africa stands out in this regard, with Rwanda (94), Mozambique and Malawi (98) now performing like middle-income economies. In addition, Kenya, 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, the index found.
“Africa has a great tradition of innovation and creativity and innovation is a central driver of economic growth, development and better jobs. It is the key for firms to compete successfully in the global marketplace,” said Francis Gurry, director general of Wipo.
“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.”
Gurry said innovation holds far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth in countries at all stages of development.
"However, realising this promise is not automatic. Each nation must find the right mix of policies to mobilise the innate innovative and creative potential in their economies,” he emphasised.
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 maximise positive spillovers to the local economy.
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.
This African Ministerial Conference 2015: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa will take place from November 3 to 5 in Dakar, Senegal. Some 60 government ministers are expected to attend.
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