• Study

Leapfrogging Africa

Sustainable Innovation in Health, Education and Agriculture

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 research and its own companies for social and economic development. Socio-economic development around the world has largely resulted from progress in three key areas requiring particular attention: health, education and agriculture. The study presents examples of how governments, NGOs, social enterprises and companies in Africa are already engaging with initiatives to tackle poverty, create jobs and counteract high population growth. “Leapfrogging” describes innovations that improve people's lives while skipping inefficient, costly and environmentally-harmful transitional stages of development. Examples include health facilities providing basic medical care in remote areas, online learning programmes which have become even more important since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and cheap micro-insurance covering smallholder farmers in case of weather-induced crop failures.

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

Focus Areas: Demographic change, Demographic dividend
published: 15th September 2020
For populations in African countries, job creation is the top priority, followed by a desire for the government to provide health care. Better education and progress in agriculture are also important to many respondents. Leapfrogging in these areas is urgently needed to improve living conditions and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. © Berlin-Institut
Africa needs technical and social innovations in order to improve health outcomes 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-Institut
The Tusome program in Kenya shows how leapfrogging can look 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-Institut


Sabine Sütterlin

Freelance research associate

Sabine Sütterlin freie wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

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Catherina Hinz

Executive Director

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