Top 20 Richest Countries in Africa in 2021 by GDP Per Capita Income


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The list of the top 20 richest countries in Africa is based on a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank

GDP per capita is one of the best indicators of a country’s wealth and well-being because it allows people to understand the average lifestyle of each country’s citizens, and how much goods and services have been created per person. Africa suffered its worst recession in more than 50 years in 2020 occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

A severe recession, when GDP fell 2.1%, but is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2021. Regionally, East Africa due to its less reliance on primary commodities and its more diversification, appears to be most resilient in the region. Its growth in 2019 was 5.3% and 0.7% in 2020.The real GDP growth rate is expected to be 3.0% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022. 

Southern Africa is the region most severely affected by the pandemic, with  economic decline by 7.0% in 2020 and is expected to grow by 3.2% in 2021 and 2.4% in 2022. It is estimated that the GDP of West Africa will shrunk by 1.5% in 2020, four times the initial forecast of 4.3%. However, many West African countries were able to maintain positive growth in 2020 due to more selective and less restrictive lockdowns. 

According to reports, the real GDP of Central Africa contracted by 2.7% in 2020, while the North African economies contracted by about 1.1% in 2020, mainly due to support by Egypt, despite the relatively serious health effects of the Corona virus on the country, it still maintained a 3.6% increase. 

This article has compiled a list of the top 20 African countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2021. The list of the top 20 richest countries in Africa is based on a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. 

20. Cameroon

GDP per capita (USD): 1,657 use

Cameroon is a low- and middle-income country with a population of more than 25 million (2018). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean, bordering the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria. It speaks English in the two border regions of Nigeria (northwest and southwest), while French is spoken in the rest of the country. Cameroon is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, ores, precious timber and agriculture. Foods such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, corn and cassava are produced in abundance in the country. 

19. Mauritania

GDP per capita (USD): 1,782 USD

Mauritania is essentially a desert land country with vast grasslands and only 0.5% of arable land. According to National Statistics Officer, Mauritania has a population of approximately 4 million (2018), with a population density of 3.9 inhabitants per square kilometer, making it the fourth thinnest country in Africa. By 2020, the country’s urban population will exceed the rural population, with 52.8% of the population living in urban areas, up from 48.3% in 2013.

18. Kenya

GDP per capita (in USD): 2,122 USD

Kenya has experienced major political and economic reforms  in the past decade that have contributed to sustainable economic growth, social development and political stability. Over 2015-2019, Kenya's economic growth averaged 5.7%, making it one of the fastest-growing economies of sub-Saharan Africa. A stable macroeconomic environment, positive investor sentiment and a strong service industry supported economic performance. 

17. Angola

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 2,130 USD

Despite significant progress on macroeconomic stability and structural reforms, Angola is still suffering the effects of lower oil prices and production levels. The oil sector accounts for one-third of GDP and more than 90% of exports, and macroeconomic stability has been restored and maintained through a more flexible exchange rate regime, restrictive monetary policy, and fiscal consolidation. These reforms are already producing some positive results, as Angola tapped the Eurobond market again in the amount of $3.0 billion, and the IMF approved the second review of the EFF program in December 2019.

16. Nigeria

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 2,209 USD

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and accounts for about half of West Africa's population with approximately 206 million people according to projections  from its 2006 population census, and one of the largest populations of youth in the world. With abundant natural resources, it is Africa's biggest oil exporter and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent.

Before the 2016 recession, Nigeria's economy was the largest in Africa and was growing fast at 6.3%. By contrast, before COVID-19 struck, the economy was growing at 2.2%. Inflation was in the single digits in 2014, compared to about 12% in 2019. The general government fiscal deficit was 4.4% of GDP in 2019, compared to 1.8% in 2014.

Nigeria has second largest rate of unemployment rate of 33.3% behind Namibia with 33.4%. Unemployment and underemployment are expected to increase, affecting poor households and increasing the share of the population vulnerable to falling into poverty. Nigerian President, Mujhammadu Buhari promise to lift 100 million people out poverty in 10 years may not be realistic as his government's poverty alleviation and job creation programs are more of tokenism, which lack the capacity of lifting citizens out of poverty. Only agriculture is expected to positively contribute to growth in 2022. Nigeria’s national minimum wage is currently at $873.84 per annum, and the country is currently the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India that has over 1 billion population.

15. Republic of the Congo

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 2,271 USD

After the profound economic crisis that plagued the country from mid-2014 following the decline in oil prices, the Congolese economy resumed an upward trajectory in 2018, with real GDP growth projected to reach 1.6% after two years of negative growth.

Growth was driven by the increase in oil production and by favorable market conditions, with oil prices holding steady in late 2018 and the resumption of demand from partner emerging countries. Nevertheless, the non-oil sector continues to decline, contracting by 5.5% as a result of the weakening of activity in construction and public works, transport, and telecommunications.

14. Ghana

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 2,300 USD

Ghana's economy contracted by 3.2 and 1.% in the second and third quarters of 2020, respectively, pushing the country into a recession for the first time in 38 years. However, a modest growth of 1.1% is for the full year of 2020 thanks to a strong 4.9% growth in the first quarter of 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. The 1.1% GDP growth in 2020 is a steep fall from the pre-COVID-19 levels of 6.5%.

With relative stability in the exchange rate and the central bank's gradual return to a tighter monetary policy stance, inflation is expected to moderate to the central bank's target range. The fiscal and current account balances are expected to improve only slowly over the medium term, largely reflecting adverse external factors and a slow return to normalcy in domestic revenue mobilization.

13. Côte d'Ivoire

GDP Per Capita (in US): 2,571USD

Côte d'Ivoire has enjoyed vibrant, robust, and stable economic growth since 2012, but experienced a slowdown in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 crisis. The country nonetheless remains Francophone West Africa's economic hub and exerts significant influence in the region.

Côte d'Ivoire's score on the World Bank's human capital index (0.38) improved slightly in 2020 relative to 2019. Poverty fell sharply from 46.3% in 2015 to 39.4% in 2020, but this decline was confined to urban areas as rural poverty levels rose by 2.4% over the same period.

12. Djibouti

GDP Per Capita (in US$): 3,275 USD

Djibouti's economy weathered the initial impact of the pandemic well, averting a contraction. Output expanded by 0.5% in 2020, driven by buoyant free zone re-exports and exports of transportation, logistics, and telecommunication services to and from Ethiopia in the latter half of the year. Yet, extreme poverty increased slightly to 14.7% in 2020. Djibouti's growth prospects, while favourable, depends critically on Ethiopia's political and economic conditions. High global food prices raise a concern about Djibouti's food security.

11. Tunisia

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 3,380 USD

As 2020 drew to a close, the depth of the pandemic's impact on the Tunisian economy became more apparent. Tunisia has experienced a sharper decline in economic growth than most of its regional peers, having entered this crisis with slow growth and rising debt levels.

Poverty and vulnerability are expected to grow and invert a trend observed in poverty reduction over the last few years. Extreme poverty—measured using the international poverty line of living on US$1.90 per day—still remained below 1% in Tunisia; however, poverty measured within the US$3.20 per day bracket was estimated to have increased from 2.9% to 3.7%.

10. Morocco

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 3,409 USD

On the economic front, the shock of COVID-19 has pushed the Moroccan economy into its first recession since 1995. Economic output contracted by 15.1% in the second quarter of 2020, primarily due to the lockdown and a sharp reduction in exports caused by the pandemic's disruption to global value chains and the collapse of receipts from tourism. The shock to supply and demand, triggered by the pandemic, has been compounded by the fall in agricultural production due to a severe drought. Although activity picked up in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, the government's preliminary estimates indicate that Morocco's real GDP contracted by 7% in 2020, leading to an increase in unemployment from 9.2% to 11.9%.

9. Algeria

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 3,449 USD

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic follows five consecutive years of slowdown in GDP growth (2015-2019) in Algeria, driven by a shrinking hydrocarbon sector, a labyrinthine and public-led model of growth, and a private sector struggling to become the new engine of economic growth. The hydrocarbon industry, which accounted for 20% of GDP, 41% of fiscal revenues, and 94% of export earnings in 2019, is experiencing a structural decline.

8. Egypt

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 3,606 USD

Egypt's recent macroeconomic and structural reforms stabilized the economy and have allowed the country to enter the global COVID-19 crisis with improving fiscal and external accounts. However, the adverse repercussions of the pandemic have since undermined this recent progress, shedding light on longstanding challenges. These include sluggish private sector activity and job creation, especially in the formal sector, underperforming non-oil exports and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), elevated government debt-to-GDP ratio (despite its significant reduction in recent years), below-potential revenue mobilization, and an unfavourable budget structure, with limited allocations to key sectors, such as health and education.

7. Namibia

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 4,412 USD

Namibia is a small country of about 2.5 million people, with a long coastline on the South Atlantic, bordering South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Angola. It is the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and is rich in mineral resources, including diamonds and uranium.

Namibia is largely dependent on investments in mineral extraction and government spending and has suffered from falling commodity prices, weak growth in key trade partners (Angola, South Africa) and tight fiscal policy on the back of the government's effort to rebalance public finances.

6. Libya

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 4,733 USD

Libya entered 2021 as a divided nation aspiring for recovery and healing. With intensifying conflict and a blockade of oil terminals and fields, the economy registered one of the worst performances in recent records for the most part of 2020.

However, if the current rapprochement remains on track, a significant economic recovery in Libya from the 2020 slump is within reach in the forthcoming year. With major maintenance problems still pending, oil production is projected to reach 1.1 million barrels per day (MBD) in 2021. This would lead to a rebound in real GDP growth, to 67% in 2021. In terms of the level of GDP, the economy would still be 23% smaller than that in 2010, the year prior to the start of the conflict.

5. South Africa

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 5,236 USD

South Africa has made considerable strides to improve the wellbeing of its citizens since its transition to democracy in the mid-1990s, but progress has stagnated in the last decade. The percentage of the population below the upper-middle-income-country poverty line fell from 68% to 56% between 2005 and 2010 but has since trended slightly upwards to 57% in 2015 and is projected to reach 60% in 2020.

Structural challenges and weak growth have undermined progress in reducing poverty, which have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The achievement of progress in household welfare is severely constrained by rising unemployment, which reached an unprecedented 32.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. The unemployment rate is highest among youths aged between 15 and 24, at around 63%.

4. Botswana

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 7,036 USD

Botswana is located at the centre of Southern Africa, positioned between South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. One of the world's poorest countries at independence in 1966, it rapidly became one of the world's development successes. Significant mineral (diamond) wealth, good governance, prudent economic management and a relatively small population of slightly more than two million, have made it an upper-middle-income country with a transformation agenda of becoming a high-income country by 2036.

While a recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting.

3. Gabon

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 7,785 USD

Gabon is an upper-middle-income country. The fifth-largest oil producer in Africa, it has had strong economic growth over the past decade, driven by its production of oil and manganese. The oil sector has accounted for 80% of exports, 45% of GDP, and 60% of fiscal revenue on average over the past five years. However, as the country is facing a decline in its oil reserves, the Gabonese government has decided to diversify its economy.

This expected growth will be undermined by the COVID-19 crisis and the further decline in oil prices. The sharp drop in domestic revenue mobilization, exports and foreign direct investment will lead to a major fiscal deficit.

2. Equatorial Guinea

GDP Per Capita (in USD): 8,000 USD

has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa in the past decade. After the discovery of large oil reserves in the 1990s, Equatorial Guinea became the third-largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola. More recently, substantial gas reserves have also been discovered. However, the country macroeconomic and fiscal situation has deteriorated following the oil price drop.

1. Seychelles

GDP Per Capita (in US$): $12,648

Seychelles is one of the smallest African countries by size and populations, but it is the richest African country by GDP per capita. Its economy largely driven by tourism. The economic and social shock from COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the Seychellois economy is severe. Economic growth declined significantly in 2020 to -13.5% from 3.9% in 2019 due to the significant disruptions in economic activities in Seychelles, driven by lower tourism activities which declined by more than 60%. In addition, the fiscal deficit widened to 22.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 on account of lower revenues and higher COVID-19-related spending and is projected to be 15.3% in 2021. Recovery is expected to gradually begin in 2021, driven by a resumption of tourism and related capital flows. If unmitigated, the poor are expected to bear a disproportionate impact of the economic shock.

Related article: Top 10 African Countries with Fastest Fixed Broadband Speeds

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