Migration, Innovation, and Growth: An African Story?

31 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2019

See all articles by Linguère Mbaye

Linguère Mbaye


Massimiliano Tani

University of New South Wales - Australian Defence Force Academy; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


This chapter brings new evidence on innovation in Africa and its relationship with short-term labour mobility. Using data from 34 African countries over the period 2011-2016 sourced from the World Bank's Enterprise Survey, we find that more than half of African firms have innovated in new product or process in the 3 years before the survey. Such high proportion may run counter to common perceptions of Africa as a region where innovation is lacklustre. The most innovative African countries are mainly located in East Africa, highlighting the dynamism of this area. Innovation there is typically about process, suggesting the existence of established productive units serving the region's market. The least innovative countries, which are characterised by innovation in products or services for local consumption, tend to be small in population and geographic size, except for one. The results also support the hypothesis that short–term labour mobility matters for innovation, making this a potentially effective channel for economic development alongside better-known activities such as investments in R&D, foreign direct investments, and trade. Short-term labour mobility thus emerges in Africa, too, as a prospective policy lever to generate new productive knowledge and promote sustainable economic growth.

Keywords: migration, labour mobility, business visits, innovation, Africa

JEL Classification: J61, O15, O33

Suggested Citation

Mbaye, Linguère and Tani, Massimiliano, Migration, Innovation, and Growth: An African Story?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12533, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3445799

Massimiliano Tani

University of New South Wales - Australian Defence Force Academy ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
+612 6268 8512 (Phone)
+612 6248 8450 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/sbus/staff_cvs/about_max_t.html

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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