Putting Africa first: the making of African innovation systems was published at a time when African governments came together to form a Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, committing to bringing about an African Renaissance. The debate in the literature at the time was on whether following advanced countries in developing science, technology and innovation would be appropriate for Africa considering the lack of infrastructure – including basic infrastructure – weak institutions and weak linkages between actors.
The book puts forward the premise that a systems of innovation approach that is based on indigenous knowledge and capabilities may in fact be the most appropriate approach for achieving sustainable development in Africa as it places emphasis on learning and competence building. It thus provides the tools for the structural transformation necessary for economic and social development in the region. The premise is that the approach should be context sensitive, taking into account local and regional specificities.
The book includes 21 chapters and draws on empirical research in Africa, Europe and Asia. As reviews of the book indicate, it has its shortfalls, particularly in not completely following through with its argument and missing elements key to development (Carmody 2006; Kankuzi 2005). The book has however been influential in that it was the first of its kind to assert the usefulness of the systems of innovation approach for analyzing development in Africa, and in bringing the focus to learning and competency building at the national and regional levels (Lundvall, Muchie and Gammeltoft 2003).
Timeline entry contributed by Il-haam Petersen
Source: Carmody, Padraig. (2006). ‘Book reviews’. Regional Studies, 40 (1): 140-141; Kankuzi, Sydney F. (2005). ‘Book reviews’. Critical Arts, 19(1): 187-207; Lundvall, Bengt-Ake, Muchie, Mammo, and Gammeltoft, Peter. (2003). Introduction. In Bengt-Ake Lundvall, Mammo Muchie and Peter Gammeltoft (eds), Putting Africa first: the making of African innovation systems. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.