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Leapfrogging Africa

Sustainable Innovation in Health, Education and Agriculture (2020)

Reiner Klingholz, Sabine Sütterlin, Alisa Kaps, Catherina Hinz
Cover Leapfrogging Africa Open image in Lightbox

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Africa lags behind the rest of the world in the vast majority of development indicators. The continent urgently needs more of its own ideas, its own minds, its own research and its own companies in order to achieve social and economic progress in the fastest and largest possible leaps. Progress is particularly needed in three key sectors that have been the foundation for socio-economic development around the world: Health, education and agriculture. The study shows examples of how governments, NGOs, social enterprises, as well as small and large companies in Africa are already engaging in several initiatives to tackle poverty, lack of prospects and high population growth. “Leapfrogging” is the technical term for such innovations that improve people's lives while skipping inefficient, costly and environmentally harmful transitional stages of development. The concepts range from simple health stations, which provide basic medical care even in remote areas, to online learning programmes, which have become even more important since the beginning of the corona pandemic, to micro-insurance systems that provide small farmers with coverage against weather-induced crop failures for little money.

The Berlin Institute would like to thank the Bayer AG for funding support. The study was carried out at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Themes: Demographic change, Demographic dividend, Focus on Africa
published: 15th September 2020
Percentage of Answers to a question
For residents of African countries, job creation is the top priority, followed by a desire for the government to ensure the health of the population. Better education and progress in agriculture are also important to many respondents. Leapfrogging in these areas is urgently needed to improve people ‘s living conditions and to achieve the world community ‘s sustainable development goals for 2030.© Berlin-Institute
Schematic Representation of Leapfrogging
Africa needs technical and social innovations in order to improve the health of the population quickly and without high costs. Comparatively simple changes such as the systematic establishment of a nationwide network of community health workers represent a leap forward. This is being spurred on by information and communication technology.© Berlin-Institute
Schematic Representation of Tusome Method
The Tusome program from Kenya shows how leapfrogging can look like in the educational sector. The country has achieved great success by defining learning outcomes, systematically monitoring them and providing targeted support for students and teachers. After only three years, the reading skills of children of primary school age have improved significantly.© Berlin-Institute


Sabine Sütterlin


Sabine Sütterlin freie wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

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Catherina Hinz

Managing Director

Telefon: +49 30 - 22 32 48 45

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