World Facts

Poorest Countries In Africa

Burundi, the Central African Republic, and Niger are the poorest African nations, and also the poorest in the world.

Poverty is a big issue in the African continent and refers to the lack of basic human needs of the African people. Most African nations perform poorly in lists related to economic prowess and human development index. Despite having rich natural resources, the economy of the countries are negatively impacted by high rates of corruption, lack of proper medical and education facilities, underdeveloped infrastructure, civil wars, political unrest and other such problems. The poorest countries in Africa are thus also the poorest countries in the world. Here we discuss some of these nations, their economies, and the factors that impede the economic progress of these nations.

10. Togo -

#10 Togo -

Togo, a West African country covers an area of 57,000 square km and houses a population of 7.5 million. It is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. 11.3% of Togo’s land area is covered by fertile land. Cassava, millets, corn, jasmine rice are the major crops grown here. However, the economy of Togo has been negatively affected by the volatile political situation in the country and low market prices of the country’s economy. Despite the monetary aid provided by World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the economic situation in the country is still precarious. Although agriculture forms the backbone of Togo’s economy, the agricultural tools and methods need to be revamped in a major manner boost agricultural production. Togo is self-sufficient in food production. Agriculture contributed to 28.2% of GDP and mining accounted for 33.9% of GDP of Togo in 2012. Togo has made some progress towards economy liberalization and is in a state of no more debt because of external financial assistance.

9. Guinea -

#9 Guinea -

Guinea is a West African nation with an area of 245,860 square km and a population of 10.5 million. The country has abundant natural resources and bauxite reserves of the country constitute 25% or more of the world’s bauxite reserves. Along with bauxite, alumina is also a major export. Diamond and gold are also mined for export. Guinea also has a high potential for hydroelectric power development. 80% of the country’s workforce is employed in the agricultural sector. Despite a potential for rapid growth and development, Guinea is faced with unsound economic policies, poorly developed infrastructural facilities, poor youth employment and several other problems that make it one of the poorest countries in Africa.

8. Mozambique -

#8 Mozambique -

Mozambique is a Southeast African country with a population of 24,692,144 as of 2014. The country is one of the poorest and underdeveloped countries in the world. However, with financial aid from organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Mozambique has exhibited a positive growth trend. The minimum legal salary in the country is around $60 USD per month. The country faces the problems of chronic child malnutrition, poor literacy rates, improper access to health facilities, etc.

7. Congo, Dem. Rep. -

#7 Congo, Dem. Rep. -

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of the poorest countries in Africa is a Central African country with a population of 81,680,000 as of 2015. It is the continent’s second-largest country by area. Though nature has endowed DRC with rich natural resources, the country is politically unstable. The high rates of corruption, lack of infrastructure, long years of colonial and commercial exploitation have weakened the economy of the nation. Raw minerals are the biggest exports of DRC with China being the biggest export partner of the country and accepting more than 50% of the exports. DRC has a low ranking in the HDI, ranking 176 among the 187 countries of the world. 

6. Liberia -

#6 Liberia -

Liberia, a West African country, covers an area of 111,369 square km and houses a population of 4,503,000 people. The country has a formal employment rate of 15%. The economy of the country is heavily dependent on foreign aid and foreign direct investment. The country also earns revenue from the export of timber, rubber, and iron ore. After a peak growth in 1979, the economy of Liberia went through a period of major decline that was triggered by the outbreak of a civil war in the country in 1989. A 90% reduction in GDP was experienced between 1989 and 1995. After the war, the GDP made a gradual recovery, and the growth rate was 5.1% in 2010, making Liberia one of the fastest growing economies in the world the same year. Presently, a small domestic market, high costs of transport, inadequate infrastructural facilities, poor trade connections with neighbors are all impediments to the growth of the Liberian economy.

5. Madagascar -

#5 Madagascar -

Madagascar, an island nation, and a biodiversity hotspot is located off the coast of southeast Africa. Though Madagascar has a rich diversity of unique flora and fauna, it is one of the poorest countries in Africa from an economic point of view. Approximately 69% of the population of the country lives below the poverty level threshold of $1 a day. Agriculture constituted 29% of the GDP of Madagascar in 2011 followed by manufacturing which accounted for 15% of the GDP. Though tourism is an important source of income in the country, the number of tourists visiting the country decreased from 365,000 in 2008 to 180,000 in 2010.

4. Malawi -

#4 Malawi -

Malawi is southeast Africa’s landlocked country that covers an area of 118,000 square km and has a population of 16,777,547. Malawi is among the world's least developed nations. Agriculture contributes to over 90% of the export revenues of the country. Previously, Malawi was heavily dependent on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for financial aid. The high rates of corruption prevalent in the country soon discouraged the international agencies from providing monetary help to the country. High rates of HIV/AIDS, poor literacy rates, poor health and hygiene, corruption, landlocked geography, etc., are some of the factors responsible for the country low per capita income levels.

3. Niger -

#3 Niger -

Niger is Western Africa’s landlocked nation with a population of 17,138,707. Over 80% of the country’s land area is covered by the Sahara Desert. The non-desert sections of the country are threatened by frequent periods of drought and also increasing desertification. The country’s economy is mainly based on subsistence with some export of raw materials like uranium ore and a few agricultural commodities. Niger is one of the poorest countries in Africa. High fertility rates, poor health infrastructure, lack of education, landlocked status, desert terrain, overpopulation, lack of awareness about birth control are only a few problems that result in the poor economic status of Niger.

2. Central African Republic -

#2 Central African Republic -

The Central African Republic is a Central African landlocked nation. The country houses a population of around 4.7 million and encompasses a land area of 240,000 square miles. Though the country has a significant volume of mineral resources and sufficient quantities of arable land, it ranks 187th out of 188 nations in the human development ranking. The landlocked geography and poor economic development of the Central African Republic hinder the export trade in the country. Though diamonds are the most important export of the country, accounting for more than 50% of the export revenue, it is estimated that a large part of it leaves the country clandestinely. The annual real GDP growth of the nation is only about 3%. Though the country is nearly self-sufficient in food crops, the high presence of the tsetse fly makes the country poor in livestock quality.

1. Burundi -

#1 Burundi -

Burundi is an East African landlocked country with a population of about 11,178,921. Burundi is a resource-poor country where the manufacturing sector is highly underdeveloped. The nation's economy is mainly based on agriculture which employs 90% of the people but accounts for only slightly over 30% of the GDP. Coffee and tea are the country’s primary export items. The country’s landlocked geography, low literacy rates, poor legal system, lack of economic freedom, and high rates of HIV/AIDS are barriers to the economic progress of Burundi. Burundians also have to deal with high rates of corruption, poor health facilities, scarcity of food, and weak infrastructure. According to the World Happiness Report 2016, Burundi is classified as the least happy nation in the world.

Poorest Countries In Africa

RankCountryGDP per capita, 2015 (In US $)
2Central African Republic306.8
7Congo, Dem. Rep.456.1
13Burkina Faso613.0
16Sierra Leone693.4
18South Sudan730.6

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