Innovation Infrastructures and Capacities in Africa


Africa’s sustainable development depends more and more on its capacity to find innovative solutions to its particular problems, including in the area of food, and to produce and market competitive and innovative products and services. In this regard it is important to put in place policies that will reinforce National Systems of Innovations (NSI), by filling gaps in the systems and by strengthening interactions between critical elements of the systems.


Entrepreneurial capacities should be reinforced, inter-firms partnerships should be encouraged and linkages between the public and the private sectors should be strengthened.  In this area UNECA has completed a study on best practices and will encourage and support African countries to undertake such studies in their respective countries.  The lack of technological innovation in African countries explains to a large extent the lack of competitiveness and the stagnation of their economies.


The new technological / innovation regime calls for special attention to be paid to key areas such as agriculture, industry, energy, and water.  In these areas, the generation of new knowledge, the development of new technologies and the promotion of innovation are crucial for achieving food security, diversifying manufactured products, reducing poverty and protecting the environment and the natural resources base.


In this regard, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is committed to creating sub-regional Centers and Networks of Excellence for higher education and research, with a view to promoting science and technology in areas and niches of high priority for sustainable development.  Useful can also be the experience of ECA and OAU in initiating or sponsoring the creation of more than a dozen regional technology centers in Africa.  As half of these centers have been unsustainable and had to be closed down or merged with other centers, sustainability must remain the main concern in creating any new regional or sub-regional institutions.