Agriculture, trade, and natural resources are the major components of the African economy. As of 2012, Africa had 1.07 billion people living in the 54 countries of the continent. Though Africa is rich in resources, the African people have been exploited for decades and a large section of the population is poverty-stricken. Although it is expected that the African economy will reach a GDP of $29 trillion by 2050, it is also estimated that the disparity in income will deter the wealth distribution among the people of the continent. Currently, several African countries are among the poorest in the world. However, some of the countries in the continent have the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Here we discuss the ten richest countries in Africa and the nature of their economies. All figures are from the 2017 International Monetary Fund data. Currently, Equatorial Guinea is the richest country in Africa, with a per capita income of $34,865.
10. Namibia - $11,528
Namibia can be found in Southern Africa. With a per capita GDP of $11,528, it is the tenth richest country in Africa. Mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism all play significant roles in the country's economy. Namibia is sparsely populated, with a population of around 2 million. The cost of living in Namibia is relatively expensive. Many goods that are consumed within the country are imported, which contributes to their high costs. Furthermore, there is a monopoly over many commodities, which also further escalates this cost. The unemployment rate in Namibia is also high, at around 27.4%.
9. Tunisia - $11,987
Tunisia is a North African country. Much of Tunisia's economy is dependent on industries such as oil, tourism, and automobile parts. The 1970s saw a period of unstructured growth for the economy of the country. Today, the per capita income in Tunisia is $11,987, Africa's 9th highest.
8. Egypt - $12,994
Egypt is a transcontinental country with territories stretching from Africa’s northeast corner to Asia’s southwest corner across the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt borders the Gaza Strip, Israel, Red Sea, Gulf of Aqaba, Sudan, and Libya. Cairo is the capital of the country. It ranks ninth on this list with a per capita GDP of $12,994. The economy of Egypt depends on agriculture, tourism, natural gas, and petroleum, as well as revenues from the Suez Canal. A large number of Egyptians also work abroad. The remittances of these workers contribute to the wealth of the nation. Despite the abundant natural resources and nearness to the sea, overpopulation, desertification and decreasing water levels of the Nile are the major factors threatening the Egyptian economy. The infiltration of terrorist groups and internal rebellions also serve to damage the country’s economic stability.
7. South Africa - $13,403
South Africa, the southernmost country on the continent, is bordered by Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Mozambique. The country has a mixed type of economy with a relatively high GDP compared to other African countries. Despite this fact, South Africa has high rates of unemployment, poverty, and a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Nonetheless, it ranks eighth on the list with an average per capita income of $13,403. South Africa is among the top 10 countries in the world for income inequality. The economic disparity among South Africa’s population is primarily a result of the apartheid regime in the country which ended in 1994. Gradual improvements in the South African economy have occurred since then. Tourism is one of the biggest revenue-generating industries in South Africa. Germany, US, Japan, and China are the biggest trade partners of South Africa outside of Africa.
6. Algeria - $15,000
Algeria, the largest country in Africa by land area, is located in the northern part of the continent. It is the 6th richest country in Africa with a GDP per capita of $15,000. The country has a population of over 40 million. Traditionally, the state has played a large role in the economy of Algeria. However, in recent years, the economy has diversified. To date, unemployment rates remain high, especially among youth. The country's economy relies greatly on hydrocarbons (petroleum and natural gas).
5. Botswana - $18,146
Botswana is located in southern Africa. The country is known for its reputation as a stable democracy. It has a population of around 2.1 million, and a land area of around 224,610 square miles. The economy of Botswana grew very quickly. It is considered to be a middle-income country. Botswana is also home to a highly sophisticated banking system. It has a low level of foreign debt. Metals and gemstones are important to the economy of Botswana and include resources such as uranium, gold, diamonds, and copper.
4. Gabon - $19,266
A Central African country, Gabon is located on the West African coast and is bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo. Libreville is the capital and biggest city of the country. It ranks fourth on this list with an average GDP of $19,266. The economy of Gabon centers around oil. However, the oil production in Gabon is declining and might soon run out. The Gabonese government has been accused of overspending. Again, it is important to note that income inequality is not taken into consideration when the per capita GDP is reported. A low population of 1,475,000 and a high amount of oil revenue explains Gabon's position on the list of richest countries. However, many of its residents continue to live in poverty.
3. Mauritius - $21,628
Mauritius is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the African continent. Throughout its history, the country has been colonized by the Dutch, French, and British. It has been independent since 1968 and has a population of around 1.3 million. It is the third richest country in Africa with a GDP per capita of $21,628. The economy of Mauritius is centered around tourism. Although agriculture used to play an important role in the country's economy, its importance has decreased. The World Bank refers to Mauritius as an "upper-middle-income economy". It has been applauded for its free economy. Tourists are drawn to Mauritius by its pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and warm ocean waters.
2. Seychelles - $28,172
Seychelles is also an island country in the Indian Ocean. It is made up of around 115 small islands. With a population of only 92,000, it has the tiniest population of any country in Africa. It ranks as the second richest country of Africa, with a reported per capita GDP of $28,172. Seychelles is characterized as a highly developed country. However, income inequality is also rampant. The country's economy is largely based on tourism. Fishing and the processing of natural resources such as coconut also play an important role. Before tourists began to visit the country, plantations used to drive the economy of Seychelles. In recent decades, the government has tried to come up with initiatives to reduce the dependence on tourism. Although it has been suspected that Seychelles may harbor offshore oil reserves, to this date none have been found.
1. Equatorial Guinea - $34,865
Equatorial Guinea is a country in Central Africa. It comes in first place with a GDP per capita of $34,865. The country is relatively small, covering only around 10,830 square miles. The population of the country is approximately 1,222,245. The low population helps keep the GDP per capita relatively high. Equatorial Guinea ranks 136th on the UN's Human Development Index. Extreme income inequality is found in the country. Although the per capita GDP is very high, it has been noted that many residents of Equatorial Guinea lack basic rights such as access to clean water.
African Countries by GDP
|Rank||Country||GDP Per Capita (International Dollar)|
|16||Republic of the Congo||6,707|
|28||Sao Tome and Principe||3,208|
|52||Democratic Republic of the Congo||785|
|53||Central African Republic||681|