The expression 'national systems of innovation' was introduced in the 1980s to emphasise the interdependence between the technical and institutional change. For many reasons, the work on Africa is especially important. No continent has a more complex pattern of national boundaries or of ethnic, religious and tribal subsystems, interacting with sectoral systems. Therefore to understand the patterns of existing innovation systems, and their limitations and to devise ways to deliver much greater benefits to all the peoples of Africa is a fundamental need for the continent. Especially at this time of global economic instability, this work is needed more than ever to 'put the last first'. Then the stone that the builders rejected may indeed become the cornerstone of the arch.