African Innovation Outlook 2010

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Africa suffers from a lack of an adequate, African-led, science, technology and innovation (STI) system of indicators in support of evidence-based policy. This has been attributed to the continent’s use of traditional development approaches that have ignored the role of measuring science and innovation activities in the socio-economic transformation of the continent. African political leadership has
recommended several schemes to advance the role of STI for development, yet there are no appropriate instruments to gauge the implementation of these schemes by member states of the African Union (AU).

Notwithstanding this development, the African Union Ministerial Conference in charge of Science and Technology (AMCOST) has repeatedly called for better understanding of, and improvement in, the state of STI on the continent. These recurrent calls have been embodied in the outcomes of AMCOST decisions over the last decade. The African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) initiative is a response to AMCOST calls to address the lack of evidence-based policy processes. The African Innovation
Outlook is an outcome of the implementation of the ASTII initiative.

Over the last three years, ASTII has been implemented through designated Focal Points at national levels coupled with coordination at continental level by the Directorate of Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission (AUC–HRST) and the NEPAD Office of Science and Technology.2 The first phase of the initiative was implemented in 19 countries and benefited from seedfunding provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and contributions from participating countries, namely: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The ASTII programme forms part of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA), which among other things aims to build the human and institutional capacities needed to produce common internationally comparable indicators as tools for the ongoing survey of research and innovation at national levels. One of the outcomes has been the establishment of national capacity to conduct such surveys regularly.

This phase of the programme was designed to serve as a learning mechanism based on implementing R&D and innovation surveys, analysing the data and using the results in policy-making. The knowledge and experience gained will be consolidated to improve the process in future, inform the roll-out to further countries and increase the scope of the programme.

The African Innovation Outlook 2010 is published as the first in a series, intended to inform the people of Africa and other interested parties about STI activities in African countries. The availability and usage of the African Innovation Outlook is expected to generate debate, which will enrich the process of collecting better quality data and improve understanding of policy processes in Africa. The debate is expected to contribute to African solutions to African problems and influence the work on STI indicators.

The R&D and innovation surveys are underpinned by international best practice. The R&D surveys are informed by the definitions in the OECD Frascati Manual and the innovation surveys by the OECD/Eurostat Oslo Manual, as adopted by the first Intergovernmental Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators in Maputo, Mozambique in 2007.

The African Innovation Outlook comprises six chapters. Readers are advised to refer to the various chapters and references therein for more information.

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