Photograph — Innovation Village

A majority of African countries recorded poor turnout in the latest edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII) titled Creating Healthy Lives – The Future of Medical Innovation, which was released this week. 

The annual global index, which ranks the innovation performance of nearly 130 economies around the world, took into consideration key indicators such as business sophistication, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, creative outputs, knowledge and technology outputs, and institutions.

Topping the GII 2019 is Switzerland, which has ranked first every year since 2011. Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom follow the Swiss nation. While Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Germany, and Israel make up the bottom half of the top ten countries in the ranking.

The bottom ten of a total 129 countries, on the other hand, comprise eight African countries including Madagascar (121), Zimbabwe (122), Benin (123), Zambia (124), Guinea (125), Togo (126), The Niger (127), and Burundi (128). Central American nation Nicaragua (120) and conflict-ridden Yemen (129) are the other countries with the least innovation activities.

By region, South Africa (63), Kenya (77) and Mauritius (82) are the top three innovation economies in sub-Saharan Africa. While Tunisia (70) and Morocco (74) are the most innovative in Northern Africa. 

Nigeria performs below expectations

Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, ranks 114th across all the indicators in this year’s Global Innovation Index. Although this means Nigeria moved up 4 places from 118th position it attained in 2018, it still fell among the countries that performed largely below development expectations. 

According to individual indicators, Nigeria ranks 114th for the institutional categories which include political, regulatory and business environments; 85th, under business sophistication (knowledge workers, innovation and knowledge absorption); 122nd in infrastructure; 119th in human capital and research; 88th in market sophistication; 101st in creative outputs and 106th in knowledge and technology outputs.

Moreover, among the lower-middle-income countries that fall short of expectation in terms of the level of innovation development, Nigeria ranks 22nd, just above Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and Zambia of the total 26 countries. 

On a positive note, however, the Index shows that large emerging economies like Nigeria, China, India, Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Africa recorded significant medical innovations as demand for improved health services rises.

“The innovation capacity in emerging markets is also growing, with increasing R&D, patents, and investment in these countries. Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies based in emerging economies have shown strong growth in recent years,” the report stated.

On a global scale, the report finds that despite the global economic slowdown, innovation is blossoming around the world. But new obstacles pose risks to global innovation. Also, some middle-income economies are on the rise as shifts in the global innovation landscape are materializing.

Furthermore, a global innovation divide persists with innovation inputs and outputs still concentrated in very few economies, even as some economies get more return on their innovation investments than others. And creating healthy lives through medical innovation requires more investment in innovation and increased diffusion efforts. 

The Global Innovation Index is a source of insight into the multidimensional facets of innovation-driven growth. Providing 80 detailed metrics for 129 economies, the GII has become one of the leading references for measuring an economy’s innovation performance with this year’s edition being the 12th.


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