Perspectives from Middle East and North African Countries
Edited by Carlo Altomonte and Massimiliano Ferrara
Chapter 7: Innovation performance of MENA countries: where do we stand?
Since the pioneering studies of Robert Solow, the origins of economic growth have been pinpointed in innovation. Superior technologies provide gains in productivity and allow for a positive economic growth even in a world whose steady state would imply a long-term null economic growth. Therefore, the ability of countries to produce or import new technologies lies at the heart of the so-called process of convergence, which supposedly leads laggard countries (in terms of economic development) toward the best performing, industrialized countries. Once upon a time, this last definition referred mainly to OECD countries, but today, as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries are stepping faster on the technological scale and the economic and political crises are spreading across industrialized countries, this definition alone does not apply any more. The position of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries lies somehow in the middle between the fastest growing countries of Asia and South America and the slowest growing countries of Old Europe. Notwithstanding, Europe remains the dream and the main reference partner for most MENA countries. In the last decades, the growth performance of MENA countries has only been moderate, if compared with other emerging countries, particularly in Asia. In practice, from 1961 to 2011, the annual average growth rate amounted to 5.56 per cent in MENA countries or to 4.99 per cent if we don't consider GCC countries (World Bank, 2012).
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