Africa’s most innovative countries look to boost 570-million internet user base
The World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO’s) Global Innovation Index (GII) 2022 has named Botswana, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa as some of Africa's most innovative countries.
The GII2022 report tracks the current state of global innovation and identifies areas where innovation is essential to drive the creation of ideas, businesses, and solutions that address challenges faced by citizens, including support for entrepreneurship, food security and local food production, digital innovation for the future of work, and energy solutions.
In the report, Kenya is noted as having registered 30,300 companies and being one of the continent's biggest adopters of mobile phones and digital technology. Botswana, a new entrant on the list, is ranked in several categories, including institutions, human capital and research, knowledge, and technology outputs.
The report also lists strengths and weaknesses perceived by research conducted for each country listed in the index.
Rwanda, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Burundi are identified as low-income countries that have exceeded expectations in terms of innovation performance.
The report scores each of the 132 countries on how positive the country's political and regulatory environment is.
Brent Haumann, Managing Director of African digital communications firm Tilte, comments that infrastructure development supporting the growth and innovation of digital technology for both the public and private sectors will go a long way in giving business owners more comfort around growth prospects.
WIPO notes that in the last 20 years, Africa's internet and digital penetration have grown to some 570 million internet users, thanks to innovation that led to more than 1.2 million kilometres of internet cables across the world's ocean floors.
The organisation believes these numbers will continue to rise with the arrival of SpaceX's Starlink and Google's Equiano to further drive digital penetration on the continent.
Support for the growth of digital technologies is being seen across Africa with governments recognising cryptocurrencies as legitimate investments.
Tony Mallam, Co-founder and Managing Director of South Africa's first passive cryptocurrency micro-saving and investing app, Upnup, notes that "with the rise of digital innovation, saving and investing can be done at the touch of a button."
According to Disrupt Africa's African Tech Startups Funding Report, start-ups in some of the continent's most innovative nations raised a combined US$1.9-billion in 2021. Fintech companies have been particularly successful in attracting VC funding, with most of the continent's unicorns being Fintech firms.
In early January this year Justin Asher, Head of Strategy & Marketing at Upnup said anyone looking to launch an African start-up in 2023 must be tempted to do so in the Fintech space (provided they have the relevant background and expertise).
“After all, Fintech has been on something of a streak on the continent. In the first half of 2022 alone, there were more than 123 deals, an increase of 84% on H1 2021 when it was already the dominant sector in terms of funding.”
The GII 2022 report highlights an upcoming "Digital Age innovation wave" built on supercomputing, artificial intelligence, and automation that is on the verge of making ample productivity impacts across all sectors, including services.
Both the private and public sectors must work together to support this innovation to drive economic growth and technological advancement, according to WIPO.