As varied as the countries in the Eurozone, Africa has many tales to tell, and a bubble plot does a good job telling some of them.
South Africa dominates African science, plodding slowly and predictably upwards in terms of scientific articles published and the growth of its economy.
Like China, S. Korea, and Brazil, however, there are a few recent entrants in Africa that are experiencing extremely high growth in scientific output, yet they tell very different stories.
Three members of North Africa — Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco — are growing steadily like South Africa in terms of their economies and scientific output. For Tunisia, broader academic freedoms for scientists are expected as a result of the recent overthrow of its autocratic president. In contrast, Nigeria‘s trajectory tells a different story.
Being rich in resources doesn’t always translate into building a better life for one’s citizens, and it can often make it worse. Oil-rich Nigeria, for example, has been the victim of years of political instability, corruption, and inadequate infrastructure. In their study, “Global Research Report: Africa,” Jonathan Adams, Christopher King and Daniel Hook write:
It is clear, however, that despite Nigeria’s high volume output it is not returning as much research as would be expected given the size of its economy. . . . This is an area where Africa is not yet benefiting from the best use of its own natural resources.
If your browser supports Adobe Flash, watch the animation, play with the controls and see for yourself. There is no one scientific tale of Africa.