This article was submitted to TechCabal by Conrad Onyango, bird story agency*
Botswana has edged out Kenya in the list of top global innovators as more African countries punch above their weight to come up with ideas and technologies that increase productivity and output.
Botswana is now the continent’s fifth most innovative country and ranked among sixteen African countries that improved their global innovation positions, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Botswana took the biggest leap forward, reaching 86th position, and in so doing overtaking Kenya (88th),” according to Global Innovation Index 2022.
A chapter in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s index titled, ‘What is the future of innovation driven growth?’ shows growing expenditure in education (2nd), human capital and research (51st), new business (4th), ease of access to micro-credit (15) and intellectual property payments (22) as key drivers for the Southern Africa country’s rise.
In 2021 Index, Botswana was ranked 106 out of a total 132 countries featured across the globe.
Mauritius (45) tops the continent’s list, propelled by the highest venture capital deals globally and performs well in trademarks, ICT service imports and new businesses indicators.
South Africa (61) takes the second position in Africa, its innovativeness driven by market capitalisation – the highest on the continent. South Africa is also among countries that recorded the fastest rate of global labor productivity growth, between the 1970’s and 2020.
“The crisis has supposedly accelerated technology adoption and diffusion, in particular as regards digitalisation and novel forms of (remote) working,” according to the index.
While Kenya has held the index’s African ‘out performer’ record for twelve years in a row, Rwanda (105) and Mozambique (123) are also consistently improving their innovation status beyond expectation. Rwanda’s performance is pushed by quality Institutions.
These three are among a list of eight African countries leading the world in delivering higher-than-expected innovation. Other economies on this list are Madagascar, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Morocco and South Africa.
Africa, is the region with the greatest number of economies performing above expectation, said the index’s authors.
Morocco (67),Tunisia (73), Egypt (89), Ghana (95), Namibia (96) and Senegal (99) are ranked among African economies in the top 100 global list of innovators.
Beyond the top 100, Ethiopia (117th) made the most progress, increasing 14 positions in the ranking and raising its performance status from below expectation to matching expectation.
The Horn of Africa country’s progress has been attributed to better performance in knowledge and technology output indicators, reflecting the country’s latest policy decisions to open up its economy to foreign investors.
In 2021, the Ethiopian government granted Kenya’s giant telco an operating license, breaking the monopoly of state-owned Ethio Telecom.
In August, Ethiopia opened the Dire Dawa Free Trade Zone, the country’s first and in September, the government announced the opening up of its banking sector to foreign private investors – all these aimed to spur competition, boost foreign exchange flows and jobs.
“I have no doubt that the zone will not only facilitate trade and investment but also enhance our technological capabilities,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said of the trade zone’s opening, according to state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
Nigeria (114), despite being a giant economy and key startup ecosystem in Africa, was listed among 14 countries that performed below expectation. However, it performed well in business sophistication and creative output indicators.
“Several high-income economies struggle to obtain a better balance between level of investment and results, often to the detriment of their overall innovation performance,” said the authors.