It is challenging to list and rank the richness of African countries. From social-economic status, commerce, economic shifts, natural disasters, colonialism, poverty, inequality to government corruption, there are many challenges in economic growth, to maintenance of healthy, wealthy and productive society.
There are 1.3 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.
Since its independence, Seychelles, the Indian Ocean island nation, its economy has experienced an increase in GDP which currently stands on $1.56 billion, this may not sound impressive, but considering Seychelles is among the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of 95,235 and per capita GDP $16,332.
Seychelles’s economy is based mainly on luxury tourism and fishing. Seychelles was economically dependent on its flourishing tourism until the crisis of the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Seychelles government decided to develop agriculture and fishing in order to create a diversified economy.
Nominal GDP Rank: #50
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #1
Senegal is limited in natural resources and thus most of its economy is based on agriculture, tourism and foreign exchange of crops and fish. Senegal has a population of 16.2 million, a GDP of $16.1 billion and a GDP per capita of $1,019. Tourism in Senegal is a vital component of its economy.
Historic sites, national parks and nature reserves in Senegal are a significant source attracting tourists from all over the world.
Nominal GDP Rank: #20
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #29
Republic of Cameroon
With a per-capita GDP of $1,443, The Republic of Cameroon is one of the ten highest in Africa by that metric. The total GDP of the country is $34.79 billion.
With great agriculture structures and a population of 23.44 million people, the county still accounts for a lot of people involved in the agricultural sector however the economy has increased in over the year. Timber reserve adds value to the economy of the country as it accounts for about 37% of the total land mass.
Nominal GDP Rank: #15
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #26
The Ivory Coast enjoys a stable economy, has a population of 24.9 million, a GDP of $53 billion and a considerable GDP growth of 8.5% per year, which is currently the 4th highest GDP growth in the world. The vast majority of Ivory Coast residents (about 70%) are engaged in agriculture.
The leading crops in Ivory Coast’s agriculture 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.
Nominal GDP Rank: #13
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #22
Tunisia is in the midst of a long process of reform over several decades, at the beginning of which the Tunisian economy has surged significantly and is now in a state of moderate growth. Tunisia has a population of about 11.6 million, a GDP of $40.2 billion and GDP per capita of $3,553.
Despite the improvement in its economic situation, Tunisia is still trying to rebuild its economy, with 15.5% of its residents living below the poverty line and 14.7% unemployed. Much of Tunisia’s economy is based around tourism, as its an attractive destination mostly due to its affordable prices, beaches, and pleasant weather. Tunisia attracts about 7 million arrivals per year.
Nominal GDP Rank: #14
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #12
Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa, with 107.53 million people living in it. It is the seventh richest country in Africa with a GDP of $80.87 billion.
The country doesn’t produce oil, but they have the fastest growing economy, that relays on agricultural, export coffee, cattle that, gold and leather products, as well as leveraging the county’s 14 major rivers (including the famous Nile) to produce energy.
Nominal GDP Rank: #8
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #32
Sudan is the 10th most populated country in Africa, with a population of 41.51 million people. It is also the 9th richest country in Africa, with a GDP of $58.23 billion and a GDP per capita of $1428.
In 2012, Sudan was the 17th fastest growing economy in the world. Largely due to the fact that it is rich in oil and gas, the country has managed to achieve an increased 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.
Nominal GDP Rank: #6
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #24
In the past, Zimbabwe was known in Africa for its extensive wheat and cotton crops, but since the early 2000s, Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk considerably. Zimbabwe has a population of 16.9 million people, GDP of $17.1 billion, and GDP per capita of $1,149.
Zimbabwe’s local currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, has reached a status of hyperinflation in the past decade, to a point where 100 billion Zimbabwean dollars was equivalent to one US dollar. After many attempts to restore the currency, in 2009 it was decided to abandon it. Since then, Zimbabwe has been using foreign currencies such as the US dollar and its economy has begun a reform process.
Nominal GDP Rank: #19
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #28
South Africa has a complex social history, with a multiethnic society, with a wide range of cultures and languages (11 official languages, to be exact). The southernmost country has a population of 57.3 million. It is also the 2nd richest country in Africa, with a GDP of $349.29 billion and a mesmerizing GDP per capita of $6,179- that is only beaten by the fifth other countries in Africa.
However, these five countries, Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles – all have populations that are smaller than 2.5 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 10 countries in the world for income inequality.
Nominal GDP Rank: #2
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #6
The eastern African country of Kenya has a population of 50.95 million people. It produces a GDP of $79.51 million ranking as the 9th richest country in Africa in terms of GDP. Its GDP per capita stands at $1,701 making it a “middle income” country according to World Bank.
Kenya leads a market-based economy, with several government-owned infrastructures, yet maintaining a liberalized trade system while taking advantage of its ports to the Indian Ocean. Sectors like fishing, mining, and tourism aid the country’s growth. However, it is agriculture that takes a major role in Kenya’s economy and labour, as about 75% of its workforce is making a living of it. The coffee and tea industry is the leading ones in Kenya agriculture economy.
Nominal GDP Rank: #9
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #20
Niger is among the poorest countries in Africa, with a population of 22.3 million, GDP of $7.89 billion and a per capita GDP of $444, which is actually one of the lowest 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 uranium deposits in the world.
Despite the efforts, Niger economy struggles to maintain, as it is negatively affected by drought cycles, rapid population growth, and the decline in uranium prices over the years.
Nominal GDP Rank: #35
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #49
With a total GDP of $124.209 billion and a staggering GDP per capita of $4,407, Angola takes the 5th place in the richest countries in Africa. Angola is largely dependent on their natural oil and gas reserves, along with hydroelectricity, diamonds, and agriculture.
Angola has a population of 30.7 million people, most of whom are still highly influenced by European culture due to 400 of Portuguese colonialism in the country. The official language of Angola is still Portugese.
Nominal GDP Rank: #5
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #9
Nigeria is the richest and biggest country in Africa. With a population of 195.8 people, a GDP of $376.28 billion and GDP per capita of $1,994, this West African country closes our list. The Nigerian economy is defined as a mixed economy emerging market. According to World Bank, it has reached the status of lower middle income. Nigeria economy is largely built around commerce and energy.
It is the largest trader of the USA in Africa, as it supplies the US with around 1/5 of its total oil production. That places Nigeria as the 12th largest oil producer in the world and the 8th larger oil exporter. Moreover, Nigerian agricultural is a major source of employment for the country, as around 30% of its population are employed in agriculture.
Nominal GDP Rank: #1
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #16
Libya is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of only 6.47 million people. It holds a GDP figure of $31.33 billion, which might not sound like a lot, but it places Libya as the seventh richest country in Africa, in terms of GDP per capita – with a figure of $4853.67.
As many Africa countries, most of Libya economic growth comes from oil, that accounts for over half of its GDP, and about 97% of its export. Due to those figures, Libya has been described as the “Upper Middle Economy of Africa” by the world bank.
Nominal GDP Rank: #16
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #8
Uganda is of the poorest nations in the world. The country’s total GDP accounting to $25.53 Billion and a $615.31 GDP per capita with a population of 44.27 million. Uganda is one of the largest countries in Africa in terms of population, but also one of the poorest. However, the country has witnessed a recent change in the economy, to the measures taken by the government to protect 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%.
Nominal GDP Rank: #17
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #41
Morocco is the 6th richest and the 11th biggest country in Africa. With a GDP of $109.82 billion and a population of 36.1 million people, is it also one of the leading countries in Africa in terms of GDP per capita, with a figure of $3,151. Morocco is considered a relatively liberal economy with large sectors such as tourism (which the government hope to reach 20% of its GDP by 2020), agriculture, solar and coal energy, export of cannabis.
Fun fact: according to a study from 2016, around 70% of the cannabis consumed in Europe comes from Morocco.
Nominal GDP Rank: #7
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #14
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and its economy is weak and underdeveloped. South Sudan has a population of 12.9 million, with only 24% of the population being literate.
Its GDP stands at $3.61 billion and GDP per capita is $275. Conditions in South Sudan are known to be most problematic, in most of the villages and populated areas there is no electricity and access to water suitable for drinking.
Nominal GDP Rank: #45
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #54
Ghana accounts a total GDP of $47.03 billion. The country has a rich and vast economy, placing it as at the 11th place in teams of highest GDP in Africa, right after Tanzania.
The position of their GDP has increased with a lot of management plan that they have applied to improve the country’s position. As it is being blessed with natural resources on which the country relies for as a source of income. With a population of 29.46 million people its GDP per capita stands at $1,663.
Nominal GDP Rank: #11
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #21
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo accounts a mixture of economic sectors such as mining, fishing, forestry, agriculture, and copper and cobalt. The country’s total GDP of $41.44 billion seems high in comparison to other African countries.
But it’s extremely large population of 84 million people, bringing its GDP per capita figure to the astounding low $478.23. 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.
Nominal GDP Rank: #12
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #47
Despite the potential and growing interest in Madagascar as a thriving tourist destination, mostly because of its unique forests and habitats, and despite its government’s attempts to develop its tourism industry, tourism in Madagascar remains underdeveloped, with few visitors each year in comparison to its neighbouring countries.
Apart from tourism, Madagascar bases most of its economy on agriculture and textile and mining industries. The population of Madagascar is 26.2 million, its GDP stands at $10.3 billion and its per capita GDP is $405.
Nominal GDP Rank: #28
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #48
Algeria bases most of its economy on fossil fuels and gas. In fact, 95% of Algeria’s exports are based on its advanced fuel and gas industry. With a GDP of $173 billion and per capita GDP of $4,187, Algeria is among the five richest countries in Africa.
Due to its newfound possibilities, in recent years, Algeria has been leaning towards sustainable development to create more jobs and ease the housing shortages it faces. The Algerian economy also offers a host to other sectors that, although they do not hold a significant percentage of the country’s economy, occupy a respectable position. These sectors include agriculture, fishing, banking, and tourism.
Nominal GDP Rank: #4
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #10
Egypt has a famous long history, dating back to the 6th century BCE. It is obviously well known for its 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 99.3 million. The Egyptian economy is largely based on Tourism, commerce and sea transport through the Suez Canal, Natural Gas, Agriculture, and of-course, Oil. With a production of over 700,000 oil barrels a year, Egypt possesses the largest oil refinery capacity in the entire African continent.
Nominal GDP Rank: #3
Nominal GDP Per Capita Rank: #15