Emerging dynamics and novel actors are shaping the transformations of sub-Saharan Africa’s research and innovation systems. In the last decade, new strategies, instruments, alliances and networks have flourished in the region, shining a light on innovative local solutions and tremendous technological potential. Long-term policy commitment is critical but not sufficient for their sustainability and for research and innovation to deliver benefits for society. Indeed, local actors are confronted with shared regional and global challenges and ecosystem-specific barriers hindering learning, creativity, and innovation processes.
This contribution addresses the major evolutions in regional learning and innovation strategies and the challenges of their sustainability. It calls attention to the new ‘rules of the game’, fast-evolving youth-led digital ecosystems, rising science integration, and best practices cases in science excellence and research and innovation networking. Sub-Saharan Africa’s researchers and innovators are thus undoubtedly on the rise. However, more inclusive stakeholders’ coalitions, challenges-oriented and place-based strategies would be key for achieving transformations through research and innovation, leaving no one and no place behind. Furthermore, monitoring these rapid changes becomes even more pressing in order to ensure that their impacts do not remain uneven and unevenly distributed for the times to come.