Despite being rich in natural resources, the economies of some African 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. Many of the poorest countries in Africa are also among the poorest countries in the world. Here we discuss some of these nations, their economies, and the factors impeding economic progress.
10. Madagascar - $1,554 per year
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.
9. South Sudan - $1,503 per year
South Sudan is the poorest country in Africa with a per capita income of $1,503 per year. Having become an independent country only in 2011, Sudan is one of the world's youngest countries. As such, the country's economy is rather underdeveloped. It also has some of the world's least developed infrastructure.
8. Eritrea - $1,434 per year
Eritrea is a small country situated in the horn of Africa. Formed by the incorporation of several ancient kingdoms, Eritrea today is a diverse state with a number of recognized official language spoken by its 4.9 million people. However, the country ranks low on lists measuring things like economic and personal freedom. Although the country's economy has been gradually growing over recent years, it is still reeling from the damage caused by the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today, its per capita GDP is 1,434 US dollars per year.
7. Mozambique - $1,266 per year
Mozambique is a southeast African country with a population of 24,692,144 as of 2014. The country is one of the poorest and least developed 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 Mozambique is around $60 USD per month. The country faces the problems of chronic child malnutrition, poor literacy rates, improper access to health facilities, and more
6. Malawi - $1,172 per year
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.
5. Niger - $1,153 per year
Niger is a west African 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.
Niger’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 and overpopulation are only a few problems that result in the poor economic status of Niger.
4. Liberia - $867 per year
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.
3. Burundi - $808 per year
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. Its average income is around $808 US dollars.
2. Democratic Republic of the Congo - $785 per year
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of the poorest countries in Africa, is a Central African country with a population of around 80 million. 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. Its average annual income is around $785 US dollars.
1. Central African Republic - $681 per year
The Central African Republic is the poorest country in Africa, with an average income of $681 every year. 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.
Poorest Countries In Africa
|Rank||Country||GDP Per Capita (International Dollar)|
|1||Central African Republic||681|
|2||Democratic Republic of the Congo||785|
|26||Sao Tome and Principe||3,208|
|38||Republic of the Congo||6,707|