Innovation in a changing South Africa: extant debates and critical reflections
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Economic and social imperatives of innovation are increasingly becoming intertwined and important, especially in the global South. While South Africa has a nucleus of innovating enterprises, key challenges with respect to poverty and underdevelopment remain. During recent decades, South Africa has experienced a marked decline in the traditional and employment-intensive sectors along with growth in service sectors. However, growth in low-productivity service sectors accounts for most employment growth. It is noted that regional innovation networks are scarce and predominantly found in major cities. A decline in the traditional employment-intensive and largely rural-based sectors of mining and agriculture, along with attempts to redress the socio-economic consequences of apartheid, resulted in a policy emphasis on innovation in distressed rural areas to enhance local economic development and public service delivery. It is concluded that skewed spatial patterns of innovation, as well as research and policy foci in relation to innovation, emerge.