This paper examines the contending views on the concept of capabilities, counterpoising the neoclassical definition of human capital, and the neoliberal appropriation of this concept, to the broader human capabilities conceptualisation of the role of people in economic systems. This argument is developed within the framework of the systems of innovation approach to economic dynamics and its relevance to the development of national systems of innovation in sub-Saharan Africa is assessed. The historical and institutional roots of the human capabilities shortfall are discussed as well as the implications of this bottleneck to the evolutionary prospects for national systems of innovation, specifically in terms of their ability to shift on to a self-sustainable growth and development path.
JEL Codes: B25, O15, O38
Keywords: Systems of Innovation; Human Capital; Human Capabilities