There are 1.33 billion people living across Africa, in 54 different countries, that produces $2.2 trillion in nominal GDP thanks to trade, agriculture and harvesting various sources of energy (oil being the dominant one in certain countries). Not too long ago, in 2013, Africa was the world’s fastest-growing continent at 5.6% a year. Nowadays, the African Development Bank predicts an increase of 4.3% in yearly growth across the continent. World Bank expects most of the African countries to reach a GDP per capita of at least $1,000 (ranking those as “middle income”) by 2025.
All nominal data in this article are based on World Bank latest reports.
How would Nigeria’s oil export affect its ranking? Does the government domination on the economy in Kenya helps its rank? How do countries like Ghana and Zimbabwe rank in comparison to Zambia and Uganda? Does South Africa’s complex social history hurt its economic growth? Which other countries occupy the top and bottom of this list?
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with an economy that is weak and underdeveloped. South Sudan has a population of 11.2 million, with only about 24% of the population being literate. This makes it hard for the country to turn things around quickly.
Its GDP stands at $3.15 billion and GDP per capita is $235.52. Conditions in South Sudan are known to be very problematic. In most of the populated areas, there is no electricity and access to water suitable for drinking.
Nominal GDP Rank: #17
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #42
Republic of Cameroon
With a per-capita GDP of $1,537.61, The Republic of Cameroon is one of the ten highest in Africa by that metric. The total GDP of the country is $39.22 billion.
Republic of Cameroon
As an economy largely based on agriculture and oil, many of the 26.55 million people, still keep the industry trending upward. The overall economy has increased over the years slowly. Timber reserve adds value to the economy of the country as it accounts for about 37% of the total land mass.
During the last year, the country continues to try to overcome a poor infrastructure to rise into a top country in Africa financially. The building of the deep-sea port in Kribi is the first ever in Central Africa, and it should help expand hydropower generation significantly.
Nominal GDP Rank: #14
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #24
Morocco is the 5th richest and the 11th biggest country in Africa. With a GDP of $121.35 billion and a population of 36.9 million, is it also one of the leading countries in Africa in terms of GDP per capita. They come in with a figure of $3,410, which is good for 12th on the continent. Morocco is considered a relatively liberal economy with large sectors such as tourism (which the government hopes to reach 20% of its GDP by 2020), agriculture, solar and coal energy, and cannabis.
Fun fact: according to a study from 2016, around 70% of the cannabis consumed in Europe comes from Morocco.
According to World Bank, during 2019 Morocco’s economy continued to operate below the potential assigned to is by said Bank. With the rainfed agricultural sector contributing to volatility and a timid recovery of the other sectors. The contribution of Morocco net exports is still negative, meaning that Morocco imports more than it exports, reflecting low competitiveness of exports and dependence on energy imports.
Nominal GDP Rank: #5
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #12
Egypt has been a major country in Africa forever. It is obviously well known for iconic monuments such as The Great Pyramids, The Great Sphinx and the ruins of Memphis and Thebe. Nowadays, Egypt is the 3rd biggest economy in Africa, with a GDP figure of $237.03 billion as well as a GDP per capita of $2,500.
It is also the 3rd biggest country in Africa, with a population of 102.3 million. The Egyptian economy is largely based on tourism, commerce, natural gas, agriculture, and sea transportation, and oil. With a production of over 700,000 oil barrels a year, Egypt possesses the largest oil refinery capacity in the entire African continent.
As long as there is a need for oil, the outlook for Egypt is strong as an economic power on the continent. The availability of hard currency has helped Egypt see a boost in their overall business environment recently.
Nominal GDP Rank: #3
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #15
Niger is among the poorest countries in Africa, with a population of 24.2 million, GDP of $9.72 billion and a per capita GDP of $487.68. This puts them amongst the poorest countries in the world. Niger’s economy is based on agriculture (mainly subsistence agriculture), which provides jobs for most of its citizens, and its large uranium deposits, which is actually one of the largest in the world.
Despite the efforts, Niger economy struggles to make huge strides. It is negatively affected by drought cycles, rapid population growth, and the decline in uranium prices over the years.
Until entrepreneurial dynamism improves, the landlocked country will struggle to really see any huge improvements. There are some growth opportunities with the mineral exports, but the country is still figuring out how to fully capitalize.
Nominal GDP Rank: #35
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #48
The Ivory Coast enjoys a stable economy. They have a population of 26.4 million, a GDP of $45.3 billion and a considerable GDP growth of 8.5% per year. This currently puts them 4th highest in GDP growth worldwide. The vast majority of Ivory Coast residents (about 70%) are engaged in agriculture.
The leading crops in the Ivory Coast are coffee and cocoa beans, which accounts for about 40% of the world’s production. As a result, the economy of the Ivory Coast is heavily influenced by fluctuations in the prices of cocoa and coffee. This led the Ivorian government to push for greater diversification of the country’s economy. Those attempts resulted in failure, and most of the industry is still agriculture-based.
The pro-market and pro-business reforms in the country continue to help move the country forward during 2019 and 2020. Analysts expect them to stay strong with year-to-year growth.
Nominal GDP Rank: #12
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #21
Libya is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of only 6.87 million people. It holds a GDP figure of $44.96 billion, which might not sound like a lot, but it places Libya as the 6th richest country in Africa, in terms of GDP per capita with a figure of $6835.62.
Just like many Africa countries, most of Libya economic growth comes from oil. It accounts for over half of its GDP, and about 97% of its exports. Due to those figures, Libya has been described as the “Upper Middle Economy of Africa” by the World Bank.
It is hard to look into the future for Libya right now with so many moving parts in the country. From political instability to major security threats, there are definite challenges the country must face head-on during 2020 and 2021.
Nominal GDP Rank: #13
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #6
Uganda is of the poorest nations in the world. The country’s total GDP accounting for $33.57 billion, along with a $828.06 GDP per capita is tough to overcome for the 45.74 million living there. Uganda is one of the largest countries in Africa in terms of population, but they have a hard time getting out of severe poverty. However, the country has witnessed a recent change in the economy, thanks in large part to the protection of the natural resources of the country.
In 1992, 56% of the country’s population was under the poverty line of $1.25 a day. In recent years that number has been reduced to around 25%. Government officials are still hopeful that in the coming years they will reach their goal of reducing the number of poor in its population to 10%.
There was a big push in the 1980s to make Uganda economically liberalized, but that has diminished over the years. They continue to look for answers that will help get so many out of a life of poverty. As during 2019 The Ugandan economy reported a strong growth, estimated at 6.3%. Largely driven by the expansion of services sectors, and industrial sectors (mostly construction and mining).
Nominal GDP Rank: #16
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #39
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a mixture of economic sectors such as mining, fishing, forestry, agriculture, and copper and cobalt. While the country’s total GDP of $48.46 billion may seem high in comparison to other African countries, but that is mostly do to it’s large population.
With 89.56 million people living in the country, it bring the GDP per capita figure to an astounding low of $495.08. This places the country in the top ten poorest countries in Africa by that metric. Nonetheless, this country is a perfect example of a mixed economy that is trying to build towards the future.
According to the African Development Bank Group, growth dropped from 5.8% in 2018 to 4.3% in 2019, due to a slowdown in extractives, the economy’s main driver despite a fall in the price of some raw materials (copper and cobalt). Agriculture has suffered from low productivity while energy shortages have hindered industrialization efforts. Growth has been driven by domestic demand, particularly private investment and public consumption, contributing even more to the social-economics gaps in the country.
Nominal GDP Rank: #11
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #46
Next on the list is Tanzania, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Africa. With a relatively high total GDP of $61.03 billion, it is the 10th most economically rich country in Africa.
Tanzania has a population of 59.73 million people, 6th biggest in Africa. That brings its GDP per capita figure to $1,172. The people of Tanzania largely rely on agricultural for a source of their income. The country has increased in terms of GDP but there are people who still are below the poverty line.
A markedly diversified economy, helps Tanzania maintain steady growth, 6.8% during 20018, only shy of 2018 7.0% growth. This diversification is characterized by robust private consumption, substantial public spending, strong investment growth, and an upturn in exports underpinned the positive outlook. Other sectors like tourism, mining, services, construction, agriculture, and manufacturing are contributing factors as well.
Nominal GDP Rank: #10
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #30
Sudan is the 10th most populated country in Africa, with a population of 43.85 million people. It is also the 17th richest country in Africa, with a GDP of $31.47 billion and a GDP per capita of $728.06.
In 2012, Sudan was the 17th fastest growing economy in the world. Largely due to the fact that it’s rich in oil and gas. The country has managed to achieve an increase in GDP along with their dependency on agricultural as a second source of income. Sudan is also the largest exporters of cotton and peanuts all across the world.
The economic uncertainly in recent times has people still a little uncertain about Sudan’s long-term growth. Currency shortages have only added to the mixed feelings people have on the economy, but it continues to trend upwards.
Nominal GDP Rank: #17
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #42
South Africa has a complex and awing social history, with a multiethnic society and a wide range of cultures and languages. The southernmost country has a population of 59.31 million. It is also the 2nd richest country in Africa, with a GDP of $371.27 billion and a mesmerizing GDP per capita of $6,331, that is only beaten by six other countries in Africa.
These six countries ahead of South Africa, Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Seychelles, all have populations under seven million people. The African Economy is largely based on mining, agriculture, automotive manufacturing, telecommunications, and tourism. Despite all these great figures, South Africa is still showing a high rate of poverty and unemployment. South Africa is also in the top ten countries in the world for income inequality.
South Africa continues to be near the top of the class in Africa, even if they have had some issues. Macroeconomic stability has returned to the country, which was an ongoing issue up until a couple of years ago.
Nominal GDP Rank: #2
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #7
Ghana accounts for a total GDP of $68.26 billion. The country has a rich and vast economy, placing it 9th in terms of highest GDP in Africa, right after Ethiopia.
The position of their GDP has increased with a lot of management plans that they have applied to improve the country’s position. With it being blessed with natural resources, the country continues to rely on it as a source of income. With a population of 31.07 million people its GDP per capita stands at $2,262.
Ghana’s economy continued to expand in 2019, with real GDP growth estimated at 7.1%. High growth momentum since 2017 has consistently placed Ghana among Africa’s 10 fastest-growing economies.
Nominal GDP Rank: #9
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #17