n AfricaGrowth Agenda - Innovation in emerging technologies and socio-economic transformation in Africa : fallacy or foresight?

Volume 2016, Issue 10
  • ISSN : 1811-5187


This article examines the importance of innovation in general, and of innovation in emerging technologies in particular, in stimulating sustainable economic growth and development in Africa. Despite many of its countries having experienced a period of rapid growth in the 2000s, unemployment, poverty and low levels of human well-being, remain widespread, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is therefore the primary focus of the paper. While there is a growing awareness of the relationship between innovation and development in a number of African states, most of such initiatives remain either at the ideation stage, or in the early developmental phase. More critically, they remain peripheral relative to the traditional sources of revenue, and are generally not envisioned as the anchors of socio-economic transformation. These rather persistent features of the African economic landscape constitute what has been variously characterized by scholars as "growth without development" and "growth without innovation". In this article, we present a conceptual framework that critically defines innovation for socio-economic transformation. Second, we extend the nominally-accepted need for innovation by arguing for emerging technology-based innovation as an important component of this effort. Finally, we conclude with some recommendations for policy, firm strategy, and practice in Africa.

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