Universities and knowledge-based development in sub-Saharan Africa: comparing university-firm interaction in Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa

OUTPUT TYPE: Monograph (Book)
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 6917
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3701
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/3701

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.


The paper draws on an empirical study that investigated the extent of, incentives for and constraints on interaction between universities and firms in three countries that differ in terms of their level of economic development and their degree of technological sophistication Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa. Evidence from two main data sources is presented - a survey of firms in key regions and sectors in each country and case studies of university practice. The study shows that, in South Africa, university-firm interaction is primarily associated with technological upgrading of firms to exploit historically strong export sectors, and to develop niche specializations in high technology manufacturing firms. In Nigeria, there is mismatch between the capabilities of universities and firms, and firms tend to rely on their own resources or customers to drive incremental innovation rather than interacting directly with universities. In Uganda, a similar trend to Nigeria is found, with firms in the agro-processing sector relying on tacit know-how', indigenous knowledge and other publicly available knowledge to support incremental innovation. The paper thus examines conditions of universities, firms and their potential for interaction across a national system of innovation in the three countries, and in so doing, attempts to open up a research agenda in terms of the specific challenges African countries face in search of knowledge for development.