A decade of development in sub-Saharan African science, technology, engineering and mathematics research

This report analyzes Africa's current performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) research, as well as future trends. In March 2014 several African governments' ministers agreed on a Joint Call for Action in Kigali to adopt a strategy that uses strategic investments in science and technology to accelerate Africa toward a developed knowledge-based society within one generation. The World Bank and Elsevier are partnering on this report to examine the research enterprise over a decade from 2003 to 2012 of three different geographies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): West and Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa. The research performance of these regions is compared to that of South Africa, Malaysia, and Vietnam; the latter two countries had a comparable research base to the SSA regions at the beginning of the period of analysis.

This report presents four main developments over the past decade in research in SSA:
1) sub-Saharan Africa has greatly increased both the quantity and quality of its research outputl;
2) SSA research output in STEM lags that of other subject areas significantly;
3) SSA, especially East Africa and Southern Africa, relies heavily on international collaboration and visiting faculty for their research output; and
4) research collaboration in Africa features a number of particular characteristics that are critical to understand for the design of successful policies.

Following an overview, this report's introductory chapter introduces the underlying database and the main methodological approaches and concepts used in the report. The next chapter provides a broad overview of the research enterprise in the different regions and across different subject groupings by using a variety of metrics to examine the quantity, usage, and quality of research output. What types of knowledge and how much are being generated by SSA researchers? By whom and how much is that knowledge being used? Chapter 3 focuses on key aspects of research collaboration for the Africa regions. How frequently do researchers in the different regions co-author articles with international colleagues or colleagues in non-academic institutions? How impactful are those co-authored articles, and with which institutions do researchers collaborate the most? The final chapter focuses on the mobility of researchers to and from the different regions.