The poorest countries in Africa are almost largely the poorest countries in the world. However, we still have rich countries in Africa that may not necessarily be some of the richest in the world but are great countries to live in. Some of these African countries have fast-growing economies than many non-African countries.
While most African countries are dependent on trade, agriculture, and mineral resources, the GDP projection of $29 trillion is expected to be attained by the African economy in 2050. One of the foremost ways to determine the wealth of a nation is by accessing the purchasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country. GDP is the estimated value of goods and services that comes from a country in 12 months. There are however a few other ways to compare the wealth of a nation.
The International Monetary Fund used GDP data to determine the wealth of countries and the richest countries in Africa. Recent data show six countries in Africa surpass the $100 billion mark. Nigeria tops the list and is also the most populous African country on the planet.
However, when considering a country’s GDP per capita (GDP per capita means gross domestic product per person), the list changes with Seychelles topping it, and Nigeria not listed even in the top 10.
So, in this article, we have a list of the 20 richest countries in Africa based on the highest GDP per capita. This data is based on the report provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Richest Countries In Africa By GDP Per Capita
1. Seychelles – GDP Per Capita $13,580
African countries have experienced the worst setback in 50 years since the outbreak of coronavirus as its GDP fell short by 2.1 percent. But projected to rise again by 3.4 per cent in the coming years. Seychelles also suffered a severe hit from the pandemic as its economic growth fell in 2020 by 13.5% from 3.9% in 2019. This is partly a result of a decline in economic activities which is driven by a more than 60% drop in tourism activities.
In 2020, the fiscal deficit broadened by up to 22.6% as a result of reduced income and high expenses on Covid-19-related situations. However, the country is expected to pick up quickly as tourism activities are gradually back.
2. Mauritius – GDP Per Capita $9,454
Another surprising addition is Mauritius. A country that is popular for its water area and currently ranked high among the countries with sustainable and developing economies.
Tourism has been a big part of the country’s success, but it was temporarily hampered by the pandemic. With things now coming back to normalcy, things are expected to get better with time as more businesses are now opening.
The country has also experienced success in manufacturing, textile, financial services with seafood becoming a bigger success which is expected.
3. Gabon – GDP Per Capita $9,089
Gabon is ranked Africa’s fifth-largest producer of oil following its boosted economic growth in the past decade. The upper-middle-income country has had its economy driven by the production of manganese and oil. With its oil production, it has had 60% of its fiscal earnings on average over the past half a decade. It has also accounted for 45% of its GDP and 80% of its exports.
However, the Gabonese government was prompt to diversify the economy of the country following the shortage in its oil reserves. The pandemic has also had a huge effect on the decline of oil prices. The country’s major fiscal deficit has resulted from the decline in domestic revenue mobilization, export, and foreign direct investment.
4. Libya – GDP Per Capita $7,200
Libya is fourth on the list of Africa’s richest countries in Africa by GDP per capita according to the record provided by the IMF. The country had tried healing and recovering from its internal struggles which resulted in a blockade of oil fields and terminals, with intensified conflicts leading to their worst economic performance in recent records.
However, efforts are on track to revive the country’s economy which is expected to produce significant results if adhered to. While major work is still on to fix issues with oil, daily production is however predicted to hit 1.1 million barrels in 2022.
This feat will upsurge the nation’s economy by 67% in 2022. But this projection will still be 23% less than what it stood at before the conflict began.
5. Botswana – GDP Per Capita $7,196
Botswana is situated at the center of Southern Africa, bordered by Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa. The country used to be one of the poorest countries in the world during the 1966 independence. But with good developmental initiatives, despite its relatively small population, the country has grown to become one of the richest in Africa.
Good governance, wealth in mineral resources such as diamonds, and economic management with a focused transformation agenda of becoming one of the world’s high-income countries by 2036 have helped Botswana attain this significant feat. And despite the setback suffered as a result of the pandemic, the country is projected to bounce back quickly as the diamond industry is showing signs of reawakening.
6. South Africa – GDP Per Capita $7,056
Since becoming a democratic system in the 1990s South Africa has attained a major feat in improving the wealth of the country and also making the lives of their citizens better. But despite still being enlisted as one of Africa’s richest countries either by GDP or GDP per capita rating, South Africa has not had major progress in about a decade now. The percentage of the poverty line for the population below the upper-middle-income country between 2005 and 2010 fell to 56% from 68% but has grown slightly to 57% in 2015 and 60% in 2020.
Factors such as weak economic growth and structural challenges have hampered the plans and projections in fighting poverty. This has also been significantly frustrated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth quarter of 2020, South Africa experienced an unprecedented rise in unemployment of about 32.5 percent. The rise is largely among youths between 15 and 24.
7. Equatorial Guinea – GDP Per Capita $6,500
The country has been one of the top richest African countries with the fastest-growing economies for about a decade now following the discovery of large oil reserves in the 90s. They quickly became Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest oil producer after Angola and Nigeria.
Equatorial Guinea has also discovered substantial gas reserves, but the drop in oil prices around the world has impacted negatively on the country’s financial and economic prowess. It stands in the second position in a recent assessment of the GDP per capita of countries in Africa by the World Bank and IMF.
8. Namibia – GDP Per Capita $4.792
Namibia is one of Africa’s smallest states, with a population of about 2.5 million. With a long coastline on the South Atlantic, the country shares borders with Zambia, Botswana, Angola, and South Africa. Despite being rich in mineral resources such as uranium and diamonds, the country is however the driest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The economy is largely dependent on their investments in mineral extraction but has experienced setbacks in commodity prices, weak growth in their major trade partners, South Africa and Angola, and tight economic policy from the government’s effort to reinstall public finances.
9. Eswatini – GDP Per Capita $4,649
Eswatini, formerly called Swaziland is a country that sits in the Southern part of Africa with an estimated population of 1,200,000. Much of the progress the country has made has to do with its deep knowledge of imports and exports. However, they are not entirely free from hardship as about 59% of the population still live below the acceptable national poverty line.
They have also been hampered by pandemics, unfavorable weather conditions, high spread of HIV and Aids, inequality, and many more. However, economies are expected to recover back again and even better as all hands are now on deck. Agriculture, construction, and manufacturing as well as their trade partnership with international communities are expected to spur the economy forward.
10. Algeria – GDP Per Capita $6,549
Algeria experienced persistent years of GDP decline which was followed by the crisis brought in by the pandemic. The fall in economic growth was large as a result of the shrinking hydrocarbon sector, labyrinthine and public-led model of growth, and the efforts of a private sector to drive economic growth in the country.
The hydrocarbon industry accounted for 94% of revenue on export in 2019, 41% of fiscal revenues, and 20% of GDP, but is experiencing a gradual fall structurally. Yet, still has a place among the countries with favorable conditions
11. Tunisia – GDP Per Capita $4,210
Tunisia experienced a harsh fall in its economy more than its regional counterpart. This worsened as it drew the pandemic, resulting in slow economic growth and a spike in debt levels. With this, there is still a projection of a rise in poverty and vulnerability which may invert the poverty reduction rate that was experienced in a few years past.
Presently, Tunisia’s extreme poverty rate still falls below 1%, and that’s the poverty measurement given by the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. But that of the $3.20 per day bracket has shown a rise from 2.9% to 3.7%. As the country struggles its way out of the economic crisis, it currently stands at the 11th position of wealthiest countries in Africa.
12. Cape Verde – GDP Per Capita $3,709
Cape Verde is one of the richest countries when you compare the average income of people living in the country to that of many countries in Africa. Although there was a period of waning economies as seen with other countries in the world, things have started picking up again.
Being in a country that runs its affairs in an effective democracy, this has brought about more stability along with a much focus on tourism and business deals with foreigners.
With many policies currently being prepared, one expects things to become better than they were especially now that businesses are resuming in full force.
13. Morocco – GDP Per Capita $3,239
Morocco entered its first recession since 1995 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, the country’s economic output dropped by 15.1%. This was largely a result of the drop in exports caused by the pandemic and the lockdown period. The sudden decline in exports resulted from the pandemic’s disruption to global value chains and the breakdown of tourism receipts.
Supply and demand were also truncated by the severe drought that led to the fall in agricultural produce. While activities in the country are gradually picking up with a projection to improve in a few years, the primary estimates of the government showed that Morocco’s real GDP contraction of about 7% caused a spike in unemployment to between 9.2% and 11.9%.
14. Egypt – GDP Per Capita $3,030
Egypt is one African country that met the COVID-19 pandemic with its improved external and fiscal accounts. Their recent structural and macroeconomic reforms have been helpful in stabilizing the nation’s economy.
But the pandemic has exposed issues like slothful job creation strategies and private sector activity, underperforming Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), poorly functional non-oil exports, revenue mobilization deficit, elevated government debt-to-GDP ratio, and a poor budget structure with insufficient allocations to the countries key sectors such as education and health sectors.
15. Angola – GDP Per Capita $2,890
With the number of resources that Angola has, one would expect them to take a number better than where they are. The several turmoils over the years have in no doubt been the major cause of it.
The country is blessed with diamond, oil, and gas resources, rich lands for farming, and several other mineral resources. However, they are over-reliance on Agriculture and seem to have not given the kind of results the resources naturally deposited with them would have given.
Although, there have been major changes recently especially now that the high cost of oil production is now helping the country get back on its feet. It was even recently reported that the economy of Angola is one of the fastest-growing in the world after a reported GDP growth.
As the government continues working on rebuilding the nation after years of pandemonium, there is no doubt that it can only get better. Sitting among the wealthiest African countries is no easy feat and this can only come from good policies.
16. Nigeria – GDP Per Capita $2,300
Call Nigeria, the giant of Africa, you are not in the wrong. It is definitely so, but no one will expect the country to sit at the 16th position despite the huge mineral resources the country has.
Nigeria is still the richest country in Africa due to its large Gross Domestic Product. This measurement has always been a way to reflect the strength of a nation, but it never tells the whole story.
This is why GDP Per capita is always better as it considers how the citizens are living instead of dwelling only on the GDP, but unfortunately, Nigeria fell off the radar.
17. Djibouti – GDP Per Capita $1,875
Initially, Djibouti was able to avert a contraction and weather the harsh effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, output expanded by 0.5% propelled by factors such as logistics, buoyant free zone exports and re-exports of transportation, and telecommunication services around Ethiopia during the remaining six months of the year.
Despite this, the country experienced a slight increase in the poverty rate to 14.7% in 2020. While the country has had favorable growth prospects, its economy is largely dependent on what happens in Ethiopia’s economy and politics. There are concerns of high global food prices on its food security.
18. Ghana – GDP Per Capita $1,787
Ghana has had a contracted economy in 2020. The economy contracted by 3.2% in the second quarter and 1% in the third quarter, making it plunge into recession after 38 years. The decline is a result of the pandemic.
However, there is a projected moderation in inflation with stability in the exchange rate and the reinstating of tight monetary policy by the central bank.
19. Cote d’Ivoire – GDP Per Capita $1,720
Côte d’Ivoire has had consistent stable, vibrant, and robust economic growth for almost a decade, but just like most African states, they experienced some economic struggles during the pandemic. The country has however maintained high significance among West Africa Francophone countries.
According to the World Bank’s human capital index, Cote d’Ivoire improved by 0.38 in 2020 more than the previous year. In their urban territories, there was a poverty decline from 46.3% to 39.4%, but it rose in the rural areas to 2.4% in the same period.
20. Zambia – GDP Per Capita $1,657
Zambia has not had it easy like most African countries, but credit to them for making the list of richest African countries. The country is far from being a fully developed country, but one could conclude that it is gradually emerging. For its efforts, it was able to achieve middle-income status in 2011 after years of significant socio-economic progress.
However, between 2011 and 2019, the GDP of the country has not been good due to the falling prices of coppers which is one of their key sources. Agriculture and hydroelectric power generation were also affected due to lack of enough rain. Meanwhile, it was the pandemic that hit harder, but with businesses starting again, a gradual recovery of the economy is expected and who knows there may be a major shift.
Which is the richest country in Africa?
On paper, Nigeria is said to be the richest country in the World, but that may not be the true picture when we decide to replace valuation by GDP with GDP per capita which tends to be more concerned about the living conditions of the people instead of the overall Gross Domestic Profit (GDP).
GDP per capita provides a better indication and if we are to go by that, then Seychelles is no doubt the richest country in the world.