Top 10 most-innovative economies in Africa

Downtown Johannesburg (Image Source: FT)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the largest number of overperforming economies.
  • The top three in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – excluding island economies, are South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.
  • No other economy has steadily improved its rankings over time.

A report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has evaluated innovation levels across 130 economies to determine the most innovative markets in the world in 2021. The 2021 Global Innovation Index (GII) measured each economy's innovative capacity and output by focusing on a long list of criteria such as human capital, institutions, technology and creative output, as well as market and business sophistication, among others.

Data from the report found that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of economies performing above expectations in the GII.

According to the report, only Mauritius (52nd) and South Africa (61st) rank in the top 65, and only Kenya (85th) and Tanzania (90th) have remained firmly within the top 100 and have improved their performance over the past five years.

However, the report noted that 11 economies are performing below expectations for their level of development, notably five from sub-Saharan Africa – Angola, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Here are the top 10 most-innovative economies in Africa, according to the 2021 Global Innovation Index

  1. Mauritius
  2. South Africa
  3. Kenya
  4. Cabo Verde
  5. Tanzania
  6. Namibia
  7. Rwanda
  8. Senegal
  9. Botswana
  10. Malawi

Since the release of the GII report in 2007, it has become a wind vane to measure innovation and the cornerstone for governments to make economic decisions. More and more governments systematically analyse their annual selection results and formulate countermeasures to improve their performance.


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