African growth

The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the Development and Economic Growth Research Programme (DEGRP), in partnership with ODI, are launching a new series of short, policy-focused essays to examine the critical role of innovation in Africa’s recovery from COVID-19.

Authored by policy experts and researchers from ACET, DEGRP and ODI, the essays focus on different sectors or issue areas in which innovation and technology have made a notable impact during the pandemic. They identify ways in which innovation can contribute to more effective policy responses by building on recent successes and tackling existing problems.

“The recovery in Africa will be more difficult than in other regions, given the lack of access to fiscal resources and uneven health systems,” said Dirk Willem te Velde, Director of Programme at the International Economic Development Group at ODI. “And that’s on top of chronic challenges like the need for high-quality jobs and inclusive growth. African countries will need to put increased emphasis on innovation to create a fast and more resilient recovery.”

The essays provide practical, high-level policy recommendations as to how governments might pursue more innovative approaches—for example by emphasizing the role of digitalization and putting in place ecosystems for innovation.

COVID-19 has led to severe socioeconomic consequences in Africa, and the pandemic is far from over. Even as countries continue to prioritize the immediate health and safety of citizens, government leaders and development partners are focused on Africa’s economic recovery. A strong and sustainable rebound after the crisis ends is critical to recapturing lost gains and keeping Africa on a transformation track.

“Innovation lies at the heart of Africa’s recovery,” said Rob Floyd, ACET Director and Senior Advisor, and co-editor of the essays along with te Velde. “We’re already seeing it. Digital technologies are helping to mitigate economic losses across sectors by creating new jobs, diversifying production, boosting productivity, increasing access to finance and revolutionizing health care. The essays will bring all this together as countries look to what comes next.”

The first four essays will be published March 22 on ACET’s web site ( They cover challenges and opportunities in the African innovation ecosystem; the role of digital technologies in African labor markets; the impact of innovation on youth, employment and skills; and the ways innovation can foster a more inclusive recovery for small and medium enterprises and the informal sector.

ACET and DEGRP plan to publish at least a dozen essays between now and August.

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