South Africa sinks in innovation index

South Africa has slipped in the global innovation rankings for 2015, but remains one of the most innovative countries in Africa.

This is according to the 2015 Global Innovations Index by Johnson Cornell University and the Wold Intellectual Property Organization.

The 2015 index covers 141 economies around the world and uses 81 indicators across a range of themes – focusing on two sub-indices which track innovation input and innovation output.

Innovation input looks at factors including institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, and business sophistication – while innovation output measures both knowledge and technology outputs and creative outputs.

Of the 141 countries, South Africa ranked as the 60th most innovative country in the world, with an index score of 37.45. This was down from 53rd in 2014.

South Africa was ranked as the second most innovative country in Sub-Saharan Africa – below Mauritius, which was ranked 49th.

“In addition to South Africa, some African countries – in particular Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, and Senegal – stand out for having made important progress,” the report said.

South Africa’s performance (out of 141 countries)

Indicator Rank
Overall 60
Innovation Input 54
Innovation Output 61
Innovation Efficiency 94
Institutions 43
Human capital and research 75
Infrastructure 89
Market sophistication 23
Business sophistication 73
Knowledge and technology outputs 58
Creative outputs 76

South Africa’s strongest indicators have to do with the country’s market sophistication, with market capitalisation ranked third out of all countries measured. Total value of all stocks traded ranks 6th, while investment in the country is ranked 8th.

At the opposite end, infrastructure ranks as the country’s overall worst field, with GDP spent per unit of energy ranking 109th in the world – tied only with the country’s dismal state of tertiary education.

South Africa has the highest direct spend on research and development in Sub-Saharan Africa, having spent over R4 billion (0.76% of GDP) in 2010.

When put against other BRICS nations, South Africa, while remaining constant in its innovation scores, is below its peers.

Although India has steadily improved its quality of innovation score, its improvement has not been as substantial as that of China.

Brazil has worsened in this metric, although the gap in score between India and Brazil has been reduced since 2013.

The most innovative countries in the world

# Country Score
1 Switzerland 68.30
2 United Kingdom 62.42
3 Sweden 62.40
4 Netherlands 61.58
5 USA 60.10
6 Finland 59.97
7 Singapore 59.36
8 Ireland 59.13
9 Luxembourg 59.02
10 Denmark 57.70
11 Hong Kong (China) 57.23
12 Germany 57.05
13 Iceland 57.02
14 Republic of Korea 56.26
15 New Zealand 55.92
60 South Africa 37.45

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South Africa sinks in innovation index