Tracing our roots: Understanding African innovation

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By Youssef Travaly, PhD MBA, Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Vice-President of Science, Innovation & Partnerships, and Acting President, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Senegal


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-digital-technologyCan you name a famous African scientist?

Barely no one can answer this question, even with some thought. And yet, Africa is the cradle of humanity, and therefore logically, the cradle of science and innovation. So why can’t we name any famous African scientists? The simple answer is that we don’t know much about the history of innovation in Africa. The world’s technologically driven human progress can be divided into two parts: the “Africa” time with major discoveries, including tools, fire, mathematics and steel, and the more recent “industrial” read “western Europe and North America” time with major discoveries such as the steam engine, vaccines, antibiotics, computers and much more. In between the two, the world transitioned from more “informal” homegrown knowledge-based innovation to more “formal” scientific knowledge-based innovation. Within that context, Africa’s research and innovation, which often occurs outside the so-called “formal” innovation framework, completely disappeared from the global map of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Since then, “playing catch-up” has been the cornerstone of the strategy of every single African nation intending to adopt a knowledge-led economy. But do we really need to catch-up? What does catching up even mean?

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Turning a commitment into actions

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By Mario Cerutti, Chief Institutional Relations & Sustainability Officer, Lavazza Group


To learn more about countries’ strategies for economic transformation, follow the 10th  Plenary Meeting and High-Level Meeting of the OECD Initiative for Policy Dialogue on Global Value Chains, Production Transformation and Developmentin Paris, France on 27-28 June 2018.


logo TOward2030At the beginning of 2017, Lavazza launched ‘’Goal Zero’’ – a call to collective action amongst our many stakeholders to pursue the 17 Global Goals of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The company decided that co-operation, instead of going it alone, is fundamental for any significant results. Still, we faced the question of how to engage different stakeholders in one all-encompassing plan. For Lavazza, answering this means engaging our different stakeholders – employees, youth, suppliers and the surrounding community – using tailored communications tools. We believe that only a strong commitment originating from within Lavazza can, in turn, fuel external communications. So, here’s how we are proceeding:
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Disentangling urban and rural food security issues in West Africa

By Richard Clarke, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat

The rapid growth of cities in West Africa poses significant challenges across development dimensions. In particular, as the location of poverty spreads from rural to urban areas so have issues of food insecurity and malnutrition. Indeed, the potential impact of growing food insecurity in urban areas was highlighted by the widespread rioting over food prices in 2008.

The West African region is set to experience a further doubling of its urban population over the next 20 years, having grown from 6 million to 170 million between 1950 and 2015. This growth will place greater demands on regional food systems, which themselves are increasingly exposed to adverse global climatic and economic conditions, to provide cities with their nutritional needs.   Continue reading

Política 2.0. Combinando la protesta con la propuesta

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De Max Trejo, Secretario General, Organismo Internacional de Juventud para Iberoamérica (OIJ)


Aprenda más sobre este tema en el
Foro Global de la OCDE sobre Desarrollo
Regístrese hoy para asistir


Política 2.0. CombinandoLas formas de participación política juvenil son múltiples, dinámicas e interconectadas y demandan una comprensión de lo político amplia y flexible para no subestimar el compromiso de las personas jóvenes con la transformación. Por ejemplo, uno de los puntos destacados en los análisis sobre el tema es el bajo involucramiento de la población joven en los procesos electorales. En este sentido, el Informe Mundial sobre Juventud de la ONU (2016) señala que en los 33 países consultados sólo el 44% de la población joven “siempre vota”, frente al 60% de adultos.

En Iberoamérica, donde las juventudes representan más del 25% de la población, la situación no es diferente. Por citar algunos casos, en México, que tendrá elecciones presidenciales en 2018 y donde las y los jóvenes representan el 30% del padrón electoral, el registro histórico muestra que, aunque la participación de quienes votan por primera vez es del 69%, ésta disminuye al 53% entre los 20 a 29 años (INE, 2016). A su vez, en Chile, que experimentó el mismo proceso en 2017, la tendencia muestra que las juventudes tienen la participación electoral más baja de la población, aportando cerca del 34% del total de la abstención (PNUD, 2017).
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The blurred boundaries of political violence in the Sahel-Sahara

By Olivier Walther, Visiting Associate Professor, Center for African Studies at the University of Florida and Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark


Explore the OECD West African Papers series for more work on African socio-economic, political and security dynamics.


The Sahel and the Sahara are faced with exceptional political instability involving a combination of rebellions, jihadist insurgencies, coups d’état, protest movements and illegal trafficking. Analysis of the outbreaks of violence reveals that the region is not just the victim of an escalation of wars and conflicts that marked the 20th century. The Sahel-Sahara has also become the setting of a globalised security environment, in which boundaries between what is local and global, domestic and international, military and civilian, politics and identity are blurred.

Local grievances, global reach

A shared characteristic of many conflicts in the Sahel-Sahara is that belligerents often leverage global ideas to pursue local and national claims. Boko Haram, for example, simultaneously exploits the pan-Islamist vision of a unified Muslim world, whose boundaries transcend national borders to embrace all believers, and the historical narrative of the Kanem-Bornu empire that reigned over the Lake Chad region for around 1 000 years. These players also rely on the investment of global resources into struggles that are driven by local and national aspirations. For Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in particular, the unofficial ransoms paid by foreign governments in exchange for hostages represent amounts estimated at several tens of millions of dollars.
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Business incubation needs a re-think

By Allon Raiz, Chief Executive Officer, Raizcorp


Explore this topic further with the upcoming launch of the
2017 African Economic Outlook: Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa.
Stay tuned for details


Ellon-RaizA little more than 12 years ago I read an article about 981 “entrepreneurs” who had been through a brief new venture creation programme. According to the journalist’s investigation, not one of these would-be entrepreneurs who had been in that programme was in existence a year later. The journalist lamented that despite the obvious evidence that these high volume, low quality programmes were ineffectual, they were nevertheless prolific, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Twelve years ago, incubation as a way to promote entrepreneurship was only beginning to appear in any significant manner in the developing world. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the incubation industry inherited a few philosophical approaches from the training industry that have plagued the industry ever since.
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Girls robbed of their childhood in the Sahel

By Laurent Bossard, Director, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

In Mali, Niger and Chad, 40% of children under five suffer from stunting. These children do not receive enough nutrients. Their bodies — their brains, bones and muscles — do not get enough calcium, iron or zinc or enough vitamins (A, B2, B12 etc.), so they do not have enough energy to grow and develop. Many of these children will suffer from chronic diseases and will have cognitive problems — so they won’t be able to go to school for long, if at all. As adults, they will have little chance to flourish and, secondarily, will have low economic productivity. Many will also die very young, often before turning five.

In these countries, at least 100 children out of every thousand die before reaching the age of five. That’s 10 times more than in Sri Lanka, 20 times more than in Canada and 50 times more than in Luxembourg. Why are these children dying and why are they doomed to a hopeless future?  Continue reading