World Facts

The Poorest Countries in Africa

Data from 2017 shows that the poorest nation in Africa was the Central African Republic.

The measurement of the wealth of different countries in the world can be done in a number of ways. One of the ways is looking at the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Data from 2017 shows that the poorest nation in Africa was the Central African Republic with a GDP per capita of only $681.

The GDP per capita can be calculated in relation to the nominal GDP or from the GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP). Using the nominal GDP per capita method is not preferred since the method does not take into account the inflation rate of a country or the cost of living. On the other hand, GDP per capita based on PPP takes into account both of these factors, which provides a clearer picture. For the purposes of this analysis, GDP per capita based on PPP is used.

Poorest Countries in Africa

Data from 2017 shows that the poorest nation in Africa was the Central African Republic with a GDP per capita of only $681. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was the second poorest with only $785, Burundi was third with $808, and Liberia fourth with $867. These four countries were the only ones with a GDP of less than $1,000. Closing the top five was Niger with a figure of $1,153 while Madagascar was tenth with $1,554.

Beyond being the poorest countries in Africa, these countries are also among the poorest countries in the world. Looking at the Central African Republic, the country has several natural resources including uranium, crude oil, diamonds, gold, and others. However, despite all these resources, it is still the poorest country in Africa and in the world. In addition, the 2015 ranking of the Human Development Index placed it in position 188 of 188 while it is also considered one of the unhealthiest nations in the world. Most of the country's population is poor and participates mostly in subsistence farming as the main source of income. Other problems contributing to the poverty include government corruption, human rights violations, and violence.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo also faces challenges that are similar to the problems facing the Central African Republic above. Due to prevalent political instability, the vast natural resources cannot be properly exploited. The political instability has also forced about 600,000 people to move to neighboring countries while two million children also face starvation. Other issues that plague the country include corruption, the lingering negative effects of colonialism, and poor infrastructure. All these are issues that prevent any form of meaningful economic development. In 2015, the Human Development Index ranked the country in position 176 out of a possible 187.

Officially known as the Republic of Madagascar, Madagascar was in the tenth position with a much more decent GDP per capita. Just like the two countries above, Madagascar faces similar challenges such as widespread corruption, poor legislation of the land, issues with the public administration, and an absence of certainty in legal matters. However, unlike most of the other countries on the list, there are indications of an improvement of the economy since 2011. Some of the indicators for this growth include reduced unemployment rates (which stood at 2.1% in 2016) and a growth rate of the economy going beyond 4% every year. The major economic resources of the country include mining, tourism, and textile exports.

The Poorest Countries in Africa

RankCountryGDP Per Capita
1 Central African Republic681
2 Congo, Dem. Rep.785
3 Burundi808
4 Liberia867
5 Niger1,153
6 Malawi1,172
7 Mozambique1,266
8 Eritrea1,434
9 South Sudan1,503
10 Madagascar1,554

About the Author

Ferdinand graduated in 2016 with a Bsc. Project Planning and Management. He enjoys writing about pretty much anything and has a soft spot for technology and advocating for world peace.

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