In 2022, the African continent made great strides in tech advancements and innovation.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently released the 15th edition of the Global Innovation Index, which ranked several African countries who have exponentially improved their economies, and inched closer to becoming competitive innovators on the world stage.
WIPO ranked Mauritius, South Africa, and Morocco as the leaders of African innovation who have significantly improved the development of their economies over the past few years. Although Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe fall under the lower-middle income category, they performed better than projections thought they would. Rwanda, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Burundi, which fell in the low-income group, outperformed on the innovation scale relative to their development.
COVID-19 was a catalyst for innovation in many African countries, because the limitations surrounding the pandemic became a force for centering day-to-day processes around technology and efficiency. The report also pointed out that many African business leaders ardently tapped into progressive technological advancements like Blockchain development and Artificial Intelligence to streamline business processes and improve efficiency. In 2022, African telecommunication companies began to tap into 5G networks, which drastically made the use of 4G mobile internet less expensive. In the same year, Meta also discovered that 16 African countries were conducive locations for metaverse tests, a process that could potentially add $40 billion to Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2031.
According to Quartz, the innovation surge across Africa was also propelled by the interest and curiosity of African youth, who are tech-savvy and enthusiastic about technological advancements. In 2022, the African continent also had its largest smartphone shipment, with 5G smartphones outselling 4G phones for the first time in history. Furthermore, the African startup ecosystem was also projected to reach a $7 billion funding, as startup founders kept looking for ways to solve issues specific to the continent.
“Seven of the top 10 most valued VC deals in Africa were in financial services. South Africa and Egypt both had three deals each in the top 10. Africa still saw the strongest growth in Q1 2022, an increase of 43.5%, relative to Q1 2021,” the report stated.
Although there were advancements in innovation, all African countries on WIPO's list saw a decline in innovation scores compared to 2021, except for Botswana, Kenya, and Egypt. Report authors from Soumitra Dutta and Bruno Lanvin alluded to the fact that the Ukraine-Russia conflict played a significant role in the decline.
“Whereas many of us were expecting growth and trade to pick up rapidly in a post-covid environment, geopolitical tensions have taken a new turn with the Russian Federation–Ukraine conflict and inflationary pressures are also making a global comeback,” Dutta and Lanvin stated.
Read the complete WIPO report here.