Innovation remains of the key critical factor that drives society forward. Progress on any country is determined amongst others by how innovative that country is.

I looked forward to reading this book as someone who is very passionate about innovation and blogs about it often.

The first few chapters of this book talks about the state of innovation in South Africa. Innovation in South Africa remains behind in relation to the type of economy it has. Most entrepreneurs in the country are not innovating as much as they should.

But having said that, what Sarah does in this book is to highlight a collection demonstrations that innovation driven by science and technology is making a difference in the lives of many South Africans.

In the book Sarah highlights that South Africa spends 0.76% of GDP on research and development, its target is to spend 1%. The average spent for other countries is 2.4% of GDP.

This book is a collection of such demonstrations. As you read this book you stories of engineers who are pioneering some of the most important innovations that addresses socio economic challenges the country faces.

There are innovations in the following areas:

  • Environment;
  • Energy;
  • Health;
  • Industry; and

What Africa needs is innovation that will address its current social challenges and this book highlights examples of such technologies.

What I have re-learned from this book is that innovation is not only about ground breaking ideas, but it is most importantly about action, about implementation, about turning creative ideas into inventions and innovations.

There are many case studies in this book of people who have implemented creative ideas and acted on them. This book is about those innovations.

Also what comes out of this is the traction that the innovations get in the global world. What I really love is that these innovations address our social challenges in the country and the continent.

It’s a good book, even better if you are an engineer and are passionate about details on how to build systems and processes. If you are an entrepreneur and are more passionate about monetizing ideas and building businesses, the innovations in this book, though they are good, they will come as too much details and less money making.

The book is written more from an engineering perspective and I’m definitely sure that people who are more structure inclined will enjoy it more.

One of the challenges about innovation is how do innovators monetize their innovations.

The value of innovations lies in their ability to be monetized.

The book answers one critical question of how to build innovations. There is a need for another (maybe follow up) book that will answer to monetizing and building enterprises that will sustain these innovations.

It is a book to read, it gives a more practical perspective to innovation that is important to know to entrepreneurs.



As an entrepreneur, have this book if you want to know exactly how to building systems and machines. If you are an engineer but interested in business, this book is gold for you.

If this book was Apple Inc, it will be Steve Wotzniak, its loves the design, the mechanics, the product, the brains in the making of the product. It doesn’t spend more time in the Steve Jobs, the vision, the game changing, the passion and the art.

I love it and I will be making reference to it in my entrepreneurship journey.

Favorite quotes:

  • ‘Innovation’ is a celebration of ideas and, more importantly, it’s a celebration of action. Each chapter highlights the depth of thinking taking place across all spheres of our economy, and reinforces the fact that not only is innovation alive and well in South Africa, it is finding traction in a global world and applying global innovations and dynamic thinking to local problem-solving.’
  • If you mention ‘South Africa’ and ‘innovation’ in a sentence together, people will nod their heads wisely and say, ‘Ah yes. Pratley Putty. Do you know that it is the only South African product to have traveled to the moon?’

  • Globally, R&D is considered an important tool for economic development, competitiveness and job creation.
  • ‘South Africa pays substantially more for foreign know-how compared to receipts from the right to use the country’s intellectual property.’
  • In 2013, South Africa paid $1.9 billion to use foreign technology, while it received $63 million in technology receipts. What this means in the broader scheme of things, is that we a net importer of technology, and pay for the right to use it, and receive no economic benefits of licensing our technology in other countries

One thought on “Book Review: Innovation: Shaping South Africa Through Science by Sarah Wild

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