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Sub-Saharan African slow in innovation growth

The newly published Global Innovation Index 2011 report ranks 125 countries/economies across the world in terms of their innovation capabilities and results. The Report highlights those countries that achieve more innovation outputs surmounting weaknesses from the input side -- the efficient innovators -- and those that lag behind in fulfilling their innovation potential. Innovation performances are analyzed in reference to the income and regional groups.

The research defines Innovation to include new or significantly improved product, processes and methods in the provision of services; in business and organizational models; in low-tech industries; through creative imitation and technological catch-up; at the public level or at the level of society, all constitute innovations.

The GII is a collaborative effort of five Knowledge Partners, all international leaders in the area of innovation, led by INSEAD, and including Alcatel-Lucent, Booz & Company, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

An Advisory Board of nine international experts from IOs, NGOs and academia was constituted to contribute to the project at the research and dissemination stages. In addition, the ranking, which is based on a transparent and easily replicable computation methodology, was submitted to a statistical audit by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.

The GII is calculated as the simple average of two sub-indices, while the Innovation Efficiency Index is the ratio of the two. The Innovation Input Sub-Index gauges elements of the national economy that enable innovative activities, grouped in five pillars: (1) Institutions, (2) Human capital and research, (3) Infrastructure, (4) Market sophistication, and (5) Business sophistication. The Innovation Output Sub-Index captures actual evidence of innovation outputs, divided in two pillars: (6) Scientific outputs and (7) Creative outputs. These pillars are divided into 20 sub-pillars, including a total of 80 indicators.

A total of 24 countries from Sub- Saharan Africa are included in the rankings, none of which made it to the top 30, and 17 of which are ranked within the bottom 25. Not a single country from Sub-Saharan Africa region is classified as high-income.

Regional leaders on the GII and the Output, Input, and Efficiency measures are Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, and Côte d'Ivoire, while only Mauritius and Nigeria achieve positions within the top 70 on the Output Sub- Index. Six countries achieve the threshold on the Input Sub-Index: South Africa (40th), Mauritius (46th), Namibia (49th), Botswana (62nd), Ghana (65th), and Kenya (69th).

Among upper-middle-income countries, Mauritius (53rd overall) achieves the top regional spot on the GII, while South Africa (59th overall) is the runner-up, followed far behind by Namibia (regional 4th and overall 78th) and Botswana (5th and 79th). South Africa tops the regional Input Sub-Index (40th globally). Ranked 83rd on the Output Sub-Index, South Africa achieves placement among the top 40 in only two areas: resident patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty and computer software spending (8th globally, with 0.9% of GDP).

Lower-middle-income countries all have poor performances. These are Nigeria (7th regionally and 96th overall), Senegal (8th and 100th), Swaziland (9th and 101st), Cameroon (10th and 103rd), Côte d'Ivoire (18th and 117th), and Sudan (24th and 124th).

Although Nigeria's position on the GII is rather low (96th), this country obtained the top regional position on the Output Sub-Index, where it is ranked 62nd, and has the second-best Efficiency Index score globally. Low-income countries Ghana (70th) and Kenya (89th) get relatively high scores -- both within the regional top 10 -- reaching 1st and 3rd place, respectively, in the overall low-income group. Of the remaining countries in this income group and region, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mali fare relatively better on the Output Sub-Index (their ranks are in the fourth quintile); while the scores of Rwanda, Zambia, and Malawi are driven by somewhat better scores on the Input Sub-Index (ranking in the fourth quintile). Of the rest, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Niger are in the last quintile (the bottom 25) in all three main indices (GII, Input, and Output).

All in all, the top 10 countries in the GII 2001 edition are dominated by Europe with six countries, and include two Asian economies and two North American countries: Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong (SAR, China), Finland, Denmark, the United States of America (US), Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (UK). Leaders in their respective regions are Switzerland (1st), Singapore (3rd), the US (7th), Israel (14th), Chile (38th), Mauritius (53rd), and India (62nd). By income group, from high- to low-income countries, the leaders are Switzerland (1st), Malaysia (31st), China (29th), and Ghana (70th).

The top 10 countries in the Innovation Output Sub-Index are Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, the US, Finland, Denmark, Israel, the UK, and Canada. The best-ranked economies within each region are Sweden (1st), the US (5th), Israel (8th), the Republic of Korea (11th), Brazil (32nd), India (44th), and Nigeria (62nd).

To download the full report or see additional highlights, please visit: http://www.insead.edu/elab.

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