This TED Talk reveals that we are, in fact, behind Africa in terms of innovation and technology.
The speaker argues that francier technology has made the people of more developed areas intellectually occupied than creative, whereas the more real and dire problems of under-developed areas require creative solutions. This appears to be the case, where backwoods Africa has leap-frogged not only infrastructure (and its constraints) but found simplified answers to many problems using far more meager hardware and software.
This also reminds me of other talks where medical advances are far ahead as well, rising to the need of equipment and processes that are cheap, reusable, and require little training to use.
One can only hope such thinking and technology will filter its way back to challenge established and entrenched paradigms.