Data Hub

Kenya edges up in 2018 global innovation ranking


Kenya slightly improved its rank among the world’s most innovative economies from 80 in 2017 to 78 this year while maintaining a third position in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Mauritius.

Kenya scores highly in four pillars but is still lagging behind in key ones such as institutions (84), human capital and research (112) and infrastructure (103), according to Global Innovation Index (GII) ranking published annually by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and GII Knowledge Partners.

Notably, under institutions, Kenya ranks low in political stability and safety (118), government effectiveness (90), regulatory quality (90) and rule of law (94). The report suggests that these factors are key in achieving a higher innovation index.

At the same time, the parameters for human capital and research development ranks low compared to top innovation achievers. Kenya is at number 97 in terms of education, tertiary education (120) and research and development (72).

Kenya ranks well on four indicators, including market sophistication (61), business sophistication (49), knowledge and technology outputs (70), and creative outputs (56). Kenya is leading in the number of creative outputs compared to South Africa (76) and Mauritius 68.

However, South Africa beat Kenya on all the other scores including those that the latter ranked high on. On the other hand, Kenya beat Mauritius in business sophistication, on which the Indian Ocean Island scored 82 and knowledge outputs (115).

In the region, Kenya has a high innovation efficiency ratio of 0.69 which places it at 41 globally on the score compared to South Africa (0.55) and Mauritius, ranking them at 83 and 105 respectively.



While sub-Saharan countries have seen an increasing number of countries join the global innovation achievers, the 2018 report reveals that the region ranks low compared to others, the first being North America.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is last as a region, despite the strong performance of individual countries. As last year, this year South Africa takes the top spot among all economies in the region (58th), followed by Mauritius (75th), Kenya (78th) and Botswana (91),” GII report 2018 says.

The report further identifies Kenya as among top 20 countries that outperform on innovation relative to their level of development. Countries from sub-Saharan Africa dominate the list of top 20 high innovation achievers with lower development index.

“Of these 20 economies—six in total, the most from any region—come from sub-Saharan Africa. Importantly, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar stand out for being innovation achievers at least three times in the previous eight years,” the report says.

The report has identified Kenya as the chief innovation achiever in the region since 2011, far ahead of a country like South Africa, which has a higher GDP per capita.

Following Kenya in the ranking in the region is Botswana at 91. Others include Tanzania (92), Namibia (93), Rwanda (99) and Senegal (100).

The report notes: “Among these, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Namibia improve their GII ranking compared to 2017, while Rwanda and Senegal remain stable and the other three economies (South Africa, Mauritius, and Botswana) lose positions.

The other 16 countries in the sub-Saharan region ranked lower than 100.

In this year’s roll, eight countries in the top 10 GII came from Europe with Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden taking the top three slots. Singapore (5) and the United States (6) are the only countries out of Europe. The other countries in the top 10 include the United Kingdom (4), Finland (7), Denmark (8), Germany (9) and Ireland (10).

The Global Innovation Index (GII) aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation and provide the tools that can assist in tailoring policies to promote long-term output growth, improved productivity, and job growth.

GII provides a rich database for 126 countries and economies, which represent about 90.8 per cent of the total global population and approximately 96.3 per cent global GDP.