But not a great deal of Innovation !

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest report on Human Development 2015 notes a marked improvement of Human Development in Algeria.  This report examines the links, positive and negative, between work and human development in a rapidly changing world, where rapid globalization, demographic transitions, and numerous other factors create new opportunities, but also risks, which generate winners but also losers

1 – The Human Development Index or HDI was developed in 1990 by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian Economist, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.  The HDI is a composite index between 0 (abysmal and 1 (excellent), calculated by the average of three indices.  The first aspect (A) quantifies health and longevity (measured by life expectancy at birth), which indirectly measures the satisfaction of basic material needs such as access to healthy food, to drinking water, decent housing, good hygiene and medical care as adopted by the Programme of the United Nations Development in 1990.

It is more reliable than the previously used indices, Per Capita GDP, which gives no information on individual or collective well-being apart from quantifying economic production.  In 2002, the United Nations Population Division took into account when estimating the population impacts of AIDS epidemic for 53 countries, compared with 45 in 2000.

The second aspect (B) is knowledge or education level measured by the adult literacy rate (percentage of 15 years and more as knowing to write and easily understand a short and simple text dealing with everyday life) and the gross enrollment rate (combined measurement of the rate for primary, secondary and higher education).  This translated the intangible needs such as the ability to participate in decision-making on the workplace or in society.

The third component (C) is concerned with the standard of living (logarithm of gross domestic product per capita in purchasing power parity), to include elements of quality of life which are not described by the two first indices such as mobility or access to culture thus giving HDI = A D E/3 .

2 – According to this World Report 2015, the score of Algeria has improved with its ranking at the 83rd in 2014 against 93rd in 2013 out of 188 countries, i.e. ten position up, and at the third position in Africa behind Mauritius Islands and the Seychelles which were not on the list of countries concerned by the multidimensional poverty index. So with an Index of Human Development (HDI) valued at 0.736, Algeria is amongst the 56 countries with a ‘high’ human development, with a life expectancy at birth in 2014 estimated to be 74.8 years while an average duration of enrollment of 7.6 years and a gross national income per capita (GNI) estimated at $13,054.

In the Maghreb, Libya has been classified in the category of countries with high development (94th), Tunisia ranked in 96th place (high HDI), Morocco at the 126th (average HDI), and Mauritania at the 156th (low HDI).  The last ten countries in this ranking are all African with Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Eritrea, the Central African Republic and Niger.  The top ten countries with the best HDI in the world (ranging from 0.944 in 0.913 indices) are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand.


Despite the extent of poverty, the report notes that the number of people living in a not very favourable background for human development, has decreased from 3 billion people in 1990 to a little more than one billion in 2014 on 7.3 billion people on 4 hours of unpaid work, women make it 3, more than 200 million people whose 74 million young people are unemployed, 2 billion people were able to get out of a low level of HDI over the past 25 years, 7 billion people today subscribe to a mobile phone service, 61% of those working in the world have no contract and only 27% of the world’s population enjoys full social protection.

3 – HDI represents a significant breakthrough in the field of the use of indicators more credible than the gross domestic product (GDP).  But according to many international experts this indicator has significant gaps which are mainly :

  • The choice and weighting of the chosen indicators remain arbitrary;
  • The quality and reliability of the data used to calculate it are highly variable from one country to another;
  • It uses averages, without taking into account inequalities such as socio-professional as well as space related, hence the concentration of national income to the benefit of a minority of rentier;
  • The level both of schooling and health, vary considerably depending on the country;
  • Some social indicators are hardly quantifiable, distorting comparisons from one country to the other;

The qualitative analysis must necessarily complement quantitative deficiencies.  It is also desirable to complete this index by new indicators that take into account the participation, the kind, the enjoyment of human rights, civil liberties, social integration, and environmental sustainability and especially for Third-Word countries, perhaps the weight of the informal sphere.  All this however would suppose another statistical performance apparatus to be adapted to social situations.  As previously analysed, in the future it should include the participation rate of women, signs of development, in the management of the city, of environmental and democratic indicators including freedom of the press and corruption indices.

4 – In short, I welcome the positive note attributed to Algeria by the UNDP, hoping that the country’s structural reforms are initiated quickly in order to consolidate these very achievements.

Meanwhile, I also noted that in its latest report on Global Innovation Index, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO-2016) reported that Algeria got a score (admittedly very mixed because no development could be had without innovation and no correlation with the important education budget) of 24.5 points and ranked 113rd out of 128 countries, but up 13 notches. Its neighbours, Morocco has progressed six places from 2015, and arrives at the top of the countries of North Africa, followed by Tunisia (77th) and the Egypt (107th).

For Arab countries, we have the United Arab Emirates at the 41st followed by Saudi Arabia (49th), Qatar (50th) and Bahrain (57th).   South Africa (54th) comes at the head of the African countries.

Globally, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Finland and Singapore are the most innovative countries.  In the bottom of the ranking, there are five African countries (Burundi, Niger, Zambia, Togo and Guinea).  Also, let us both avoid any free pessimism and be lulled into complacency :  many achievements since political independence, but also many shortcomings that it is correct, taking account of the transformation of the world, avoiding utopian schemes of the past.  Before all of the internal actors, adaptation, depending on strategies must be based on both fundamental development of the 21st century, namely, good governance and the knowledge economy.

 Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, Expert International,  ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Translation from French by Microsoft / FaroL  faro@farolco.onmicrosoft.com

(1)- Human Development-Report 2015  -Work for Human Development (288 pages)

See – The future of human development measures – 08 June 2016. Selim Jahan, Director of the Office of the UNDP  and the Human Development Report 2015 on Algeria.