On July 18, the seventh annual Global Innovation Index (GII) was released at the B20 Australia Summit in Sydney. This year, the report's theme dealt with the Human Factor in Innovation, referring to the role that people play in the overall innovative success of different countries. While Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Sweden topped the list, a significant change was seen: nations in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa showed the most overall improvement on the list. Seventeen African nations, including Mauritius, Seychelles, and South Africa, jumped up in the rankings by several placings. Sub-Saharan Africa has already seen great strides in economic growth and freedom, and this new development spells good news for Africa and its future.

Countries in the GII are ranked by their potential for research and development. In this report, the "human factor" looked at how various institutions and agencies made the most of the labor forces and people available to them. Examples of this include an endowment fund in Rwanda that aims to further innovation in manufacturing and agriculture. There are five pillars considered in ranking these countries: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, and business sophistication. Out of these pillars rises one of the most important nation categories: "Innovation learners". These are countries whose economies have outperformed other nations with similar GDPs by at least 10 percent. Characteristics of these countries include improved institutions, more skilled labor forces, and major involvement and contribution to global markets. Sub-Saharan Africa now provides for 42% of all innovation learners on the list. Some of these innovation learners include Gambia, Malawi, and Mozambique, whom all have been rising in the pillars of human capital and research and market sophistication. Africa's most overall improved country, Cote d'Ivoire, was also the largest riser in the list, moving up 20 places in the rankings.

While none of these countries ranked anywhere ahead of #40 on the list, Sub-Saharan countries proved to be leaders in the category of low-income countries. This goes to show that, although progress can still be made, this is very exciting news for the region. The nations' growing innovation potential can be used to boost their speedily-growing economies even further and reckon themselves as a considerable force in global business. With the increased innovation and economic freedom in some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa demands itself as a region to be looked upon seriously by other nations and their businesses.

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