Innovation and Africa: Much to Gain, Nothing to Lose!

  • Domenico FanizzaEmail author
  • Amadou Boly
Conference paper


This paper provides quantitative evidence suggesting the current wave of technological innovation provides major opportunities for transforming the continent economy. The absence of strong incumbents and an increasingly young and technology-prone population seem factors that can facilitate the diffusion of innovation, based on the experience of mobile telephony—one of the few innovations for which we have data that we can use to build a cross-country panel. We use the Howitt-Aghion’s model of creative destruction as an analytical framework for our estimates. Based on our estimates we simulate innovation paths for Africa and OECD for the next 20 years. Finally, we use employment simulations to show that Africa’s cannot deal with its huge demographic by relying on industry-led growth only. Innovation can generate the productivity improvements needed to generate jobs in agriculture, services, as well as industry.



We would like to thank Rabah Arezki (World Bank), Carlo Pietrobelli (University of Roma III), and Jonas Heirmann (DIFD) for many discussions, comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Tiguene Nabassaga (HEC Montreal) for excellent research assistance. We are responsible for all the remaining errors. The views expressed by the paper are strictly ours and do not reflect those of the International Monetary Fund or the African Development Bank.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Monetary FundWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Development Research DepartmentAfrican Development BankAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire

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