South Africa's win at position 58 was attributed to its sophisticated business sector and market, access to credit, huge research and also intellectual property payments.
The United States fell from fourth place in 2017 to sixth this year, while China jumped from 22nd to 17th in the rankings. It ranked at 66th position in 2016 and 60th previous year.
The 2018 GII report ranked China among the 20 most innovative economies on robust leadership, investments in research and high tech industries.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said Tuesday that China's ranking represents a breakthrough for its economy, which is rapidly transforming and prioritizing research and ingenuity.
Vietnam is ranked second in innovation among lower middle income economies, and experts say it has punched above its income weight.
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The Manchester United boss, meanwhile, heralded the achievement of Croatia , who will face France in Sunday's showpiece. But Ivan Perisic equalized in the second half before Mario Mandzukic netted an extra-time victor .
The 2018 Global Innovation Index notes that supportive infrastructure and human capital have created an innovation ecosystem that has facilitated growth and competitiveness of African economies. "It heralds the arrival of multipolar innovation", he concluded.
Africa's most innovative economies were able to attract higher foreign direct investments (FDI) that translated into more jobs for the youth and increased revenue streams to support social sectors like education and health, although investments in ICTs and creative industry were behind modernization of economies in sub-Saharan Africa.
The sub-Saharan Africa region boasts of six innovation achievers, including Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, while five economies hail from Eastern Europe. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam continue to move up the rankings, steering closer to regional powerhouses like China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
"Over time, a number of emerging economies stand out for being real movers and shakers in the innovation landscape", stated Soumitra Dutta, Former Dean and Professor of Management at Cornell University.
The report said that China's rapid rise in the rankings over the last few years has been spectacular and that it shows the way for other middle-income economies, though only Malaysia, now 35th in the rankings, continues to edge closer to the top 25.