Putting Africa First: The Making of African Innovation Systems

Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Mammo Muchie and Peter Gammeltoft

When Muchie and Lundvall initiated the international conference ‘African Systems of Innovation and Competence Building’ March 2001 in Aalborg the intention was to reexamine the problems of African development by mobilising the scholarship on innovation systems. The major objective was to respond to academic and analytical questions: what lessons could be drawn from applying the innovation system concept on Africa? The indirect objective was to address more political and controversial questions: could the introduction of the innovation system concept help to break the ideological stalemate where Africa appears as the hopeless victim doomed to permanent poverty and could it also help to bolster the idea of a Pan African renaissance that Mandela and other African leaders have tried to build recently? Could it open up a new vision ‘where the last becomes the first’?

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