World Facts

The Biggest Economies in Africa

Nigeria is home to the biggest African economy.

The GDP is a measure of a value of total output within a given year. The output is based on goods and services. In 2017, the Gross World Product is estimated at $77.99 trillion while PPP was $126.69 trillion. The world’s GDP is calculated in two ways, the nominal value and based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). In Nominal GDP value, the current market exchange rates are used in calculation while PPP is calculated taking into consideration the market value of an item to be the same in both currencies. The purchasing power of each currency is then determined. US leads in the world’s GDP, followed by China, though most of the African countries are still developing, a few of the African countries have done well in the global map.

The Biggest Economies in Africa


In 2017, Nigeria was the biggest economy in Africa with a GDP of $400.6 billion, and this makes up for 0.5% of the world’s GDP. Nigeria’s economy ranks top in Africa and 28th in the world. Nigeria has a population of about 190 million with a little over 30% of the population living below poverty level. In 2015, the service sector contributed most the country’s GDP at 54.6%, the industry contributed 25.7%, and agriculture contributed 17.8%. The unemployment rate in 2016 was at 13.9%. The Nigerian GDP by PPP level went up from $451 billion in 2012 to 1,124.6 billion in 2017. Today, Nigeria is the largest oil producing country in Africa and ranks 11th in the world. The oil and petroleum industry contributes significantly to the economy of the country.

South Africa

South Africa’s economy ranks 35th in the world and 2nd in Africa with a GDP of $317.568 billion, and this is 0.4% of the world’s GDP. South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa, and the economy depends mostly on the industries. The World Bank puts the country in the category of upper-middle-economy countries making it one of the only four countries in such category in Africa. The other countries in the same category include Botswana, Gabon, and Mauritius. South Africa has a population of about 56 million with about 26.2% of the population living below poverty. The country has several mines and is the world’s largest producer of platinum. South Africa’s economy struggled a bit in the start of the year 2017 with a drop of 1.1% of the GDP, but the economy picked up in the second half of the year registering a 2.5% growth.


The economy of Egypt in 2017 accounted for 0.377% of the world’s GDP and had a GDP of $294.109 billion. The economy of the country ranks 40th in the world and 3rd in Africa. The service industry contributes to 51% of Egypt’s GDP. The country has seen a GDP growth of 3.7% in 2017. Egypt has a population of about 98 million with 27.8% of the population living below poverty level. The oil and gas industries contribute significantly to the country’s revenue with tourism coming second and agriculture third.

Economic Growth in Africa

These three countries from Africa made it to the top 50 of the world’s countries with the highest GDP and contributing significantly to the world’s economy. The countries have shown great economic growth.

The Biggest Economies in Africa

RankCountryShare of Global GDP (Percentage)
2South Africa0.407
12Democratic Republic of the Congo0.0527
14Cote d'Ivoire0.0473

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