The Richest African Country

The richest African country is Nigeria, with a GDP of $446.543 billion.

  • It is ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP and is the largest economy in Africa.
  • Nigeria is ranked as the 21st largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP

We have discussed about the richest woman in Africa as well as the richest man in Africa. And today we shall be talking about the richest African country.

There is always a first among losers and that is how I see the economic standings of African countries when compared to the rest of the world.

I am an African and I love my continent but I feel we are not doing enough when it comes to wealth making and distribution.

But that does not mean that we are not making progress as a people. But with mass corruption and poverty making more strides and encroaching into different facet of our lives, those achievements become pale in comparison.

Africa and her countries will remain the financial bottom of the the world unless we take serious look into how to effectively manage our natural resources and set draconian punitive measures against social infractions that would interfere with our social and economic progress.

The Richest African Country

1. Nigeria – $504.573 billion

The richest African country is Nigeria, with a GDP of $504.573 billion [1]. It is ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP and is the largest economy in Africa. Nigeria is ranked as the 21st largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP.

Nigeria is a middle income, mixed economy and emerging market, with expanding financial, service, communications, technology and entertainment sectors. The country’s manufacturing sector is the third-largest on the continent.

The country is also the largest trading partner of the United States’ in sub-Saharan Africa. Which is because of the high level of petroleum imports from Nigeria. Supplying 8% of U.S. oil imports, which is nearly half of Nigeria’s daily oil production. The country is also  the fifth-largest exporter of oil to the United States.

 Nigeria’s economy is highly dependent on oil and is therefore very vulnerable to fluctuations in crude oil prices and production.

Nigeria was the 13th-largest trading partner for the United States in 2010. The United States is Nigeria’s largest trading partner after the United Kingdom. Nigeria’s petroleum sector accounts for about 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign income earnings. 

The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria. [2] Nigeria accounts for about half of West Africa’s population with approximately 202 million people and one of the largest populations of youth in the world. 

According to the United Nations, the population of Nigeria could reach 730 million inhabitants in 2100, up from 200 million 

it is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent. Nigeria’s economic Growth averaged 1.9% in 2018 and remained stable at 2% in the first half of 2019.

Growth averaged 1.9% in 2018 and remained stable at 2% in the first half of 2019. But the growth is still too low to lift the bottom half of the population out of poverty. Given that the economy is expected to grow more slowly than the population, living standards are expected to worsen.[3]

In 2019, Nigeria was able to achieve a growth of 2.2% according to IMF. But according to the updated IMF forecasts from 14th April 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, the country’s GDP growth is expected to fall to -3.4% in 2020 and pick up to 2.4% in 2021, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery.

The country’s GDP-to-Debt ratio was at 29.8% in 2019 while inflation reached 11.4%. The country has raised the VAT from 5% to 7.5% in order to increase its revenues. [4]

2. South Africa – $386.727 billion

The second country to make it on this post of the richest African county, is South Africa. South Africa comes second with a GDP of $371.298 billion [*]. South Africa has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa after Nigeria.

In 2009 South Africa overtook Brazil as the country with the widest gap between rich and poor, according to figures put together by a leading South African academic. [5]

But despite that fact,  it is the most industrialized and diversified economy on the continent. South Africa was also named the African Country of the Future for 2013/14 by fDi Magazine. [6]

There are very few countries in Africa that can be classified as upper-middle-income economy and South Africa is one of only eight such countries on the continent, including: Algeria, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Mauritius, Namibia and Libya.

South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product almost tripled to a peak of $400 billion in 2011. But currently sits roughly at $385 billion in 2019.

South Africa’s economy was greatly altered beyond agriculture, when diamonds were discovered in Kimberley in 1870 , while some of the world’s largest gold deposits were discovered in the Witwatersrand region of Transvaal 1886. A discovery that would quickly transform the economy into a resource-dominated one.

South Africa’s economy is structurally diversified with key economic sectors including mining, agriculture and fisheries, vehicle manufacturing and assembly, food processing, clothing and textiles, telecommunication, energy, financial and business services, real estate, tourism, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade.

The country has since shifted from a primary and secondary economy in the mid-twentieth century to an economy driven primarily by the tertiary sector in the present day which accounts for an estimated 65% of GDP or $230 billion in nominal GDP terms.[7]

South Africa has three cities that serve as capitals: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). While Johannesburg, is the largest urban area in the country.

3. Egypt – $353.003 billion

Egypt comes third with a GDP of $353.003 billion [8]. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased in Egypt to 5.6% in fiscal year 2019 and was sustained throughout the first half of fiscal year 2020, which was driven mainly by investments and the improving balance of net exports. 

Egypt’s foreign reserve sits at US$45.5 billion at the end of February 2020. [9]

Egypt’s economic freedom score is 54.0, making its economy the 142nd freest in the 2020 Index. The IMF approved USD 2.8 billion in financial support for the government on 11 May.

it is estimated that three-quarters of all employees are paid as unofficial workers, and 32.5% of the population lives below the poverty line

The official unemployment rate, after reaching its highest level in the past 11 years in 2015, has been declining slowly since then and fell to around 8.6% at the end of 2019. [10]

In late 2016, persistent dollar shortages and waning aid from its Gulf allies led Cairo to turn to the IMF for a 3-year, $12 billion loan program.

4. Algeria – $193.056 billion

Algeria is classified as an upper middle income country by the World Bank. The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. 

Algeria has decreased its external debt to less than 10% of GDP after repaying its Paris Club and London Club debt in 2006.

The country has the eighth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the fourth-largest gas exporter; it ranks 18th in oil reserves.[11] Just like the richest African country, Nigeria. Oil is a major economic factor in Algeria.

Algeria’s economy is dominated by its export trade in petroleum and natural gas, commodities that, despite fluctuations in world prices, annually contribute roughly one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The government’s continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector, however, has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards. 

The Algerian economy grew by 2.6% in 2011, driven by public spending, in particular in the construction and public-works sector. The country is facing a number of short-term and medium-term problems, including the need to diversify the economy, strengthen political, economic and financial reforms, improve the business climate and reduce inequalities amongst regions.[12]

In 2006, Russia and Algeria announced a complex, yet significant deal involving several billion dollars. The deal involved Russia agreeing to write off $4.74bn in Soviet-era debt.

In return the Algerian government would buy Su-30MKA fighters, MiG-29SMT, MiG-29UBT fighters, Yak-130 trainers, S-300PMU-2 Favorit (SA-20) SAM systems, T-90S main battle tanks, Metis-M1 (AT-13) and Kornet-E (AT-14) anti-tank missile systems. Also included in the deal are Project 636 improved Kilo class submarines with Club-S (SS-N-27) missile systems worth  $7.5 billion. [13]

5. Morrocco – $130.417 billion

The Moroccan economy remains heavily dependent on the export of raw materials. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in Morocco after the phosphate industry.

In 2013, the numbers of tourist coming into the country reached 10 million for the first time and the tourism sector represents 8.6 % of the Moroccan GDP. The sector was also able help the country to attract $9.5 billion of tourist receipts.

The country’s tourist industry focused on the country’s coast, culture, and history. “Morocco is targeting new international tourism markets such as the Gulf countries, Eastern Europe and Latin America, by diversifying and consolidating the infrastructure sector, which represents 8.5% of the GDP,” Minister of Tourism, Lahcen Haddad said. [14]

Agriculture in Morocco employs about 40% of the nation’s workforce. Making it the largest employer in the country. In the rainy sections of the northeast, barley, wheat, and other cereals can be raised without irrigation.

On the Atlantic coast, where there are extensive plains, olives, citrus fruits, and wine grapes are grown, largely with water supplied by artesian wells.

 In the northern foothills of the Atlas Mts. there are large mineral deposits; phosphates are the most important, but iron ore, silver, zinc, copper, lead, manganese, barytine, gold, and coal (the only sizable coal deposits in North Africa) are also found.

The main exports are clothing, fish, inorganic chemicals, transistors, minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, fruits, and vegetables. [15]

Casablanca is by far the largest port and an important industrial center. Significant industries include textile and leather goods manufacturing, food processing, and oil refining.

6. Angola – $124.600 billion

Despite the fact that the country is one of the most exploited country in Africa, it is still one of names on our list. For those who don’t know, this is the country of the richest woman in Africa.

Angola is the seventh-largest country in Africa. It is the largest and wealthiest of the Portuguese-speaking African states. And the second largest oil producer in Africa.

A net producer of natural gas and also the third largest producer of diamonds in the continent, surpassed only by Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

In addition to diamonds, the country also produces gold, granite, gypsum, marble, and salt, and possesses numerous undeveloped minerals with potential for extraction including beryllium, clay, copper, iron-ore, lead, lignite, manganese, mica, nickel, peat, phosphate rock, quartz, silver, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zinc.

The services sector (banking, communication, tourism) is also growing rapidly, accounting for 46.8% of GDP and employing 43% of the population. 

Despite the country’s oil, diamonds, hydroelectric potential, and rich agricultural land, most Angolans remain poor and dependent on subsistence farming.

Angola’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by its oil sector. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50% of GDP, more than 70% of government revenue, and more than 90% of the country’s exports.

Diamonds contribute an additional 5% to exports. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for most of the people, but half of the country’s food is still imported. [17]

Some of the country’s infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped from the 27-year-long civil war (1975-2002). However, the government since 2005 has used billions of dollars in credit from China, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU to help rebuild Angola’s public infrastructure.

 According to the updated IMF forecasts from 14th April 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, GDP growth is expected to fall to -1.4% in 2020 and pick up to 2.6% in 2021, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery.

7. Kenya – $109.116 billion

Kenya’s major industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, energy, tourism and financial services. The country’s economy is rated the third largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, coming behind Nigeria and South Africa.

Most of the country’s business is in private hands, with a large amount of foreign investment. Kenya’s economy has been unable to maintain a favorable balance of trade while addressing the problems of chronic poverty and growing unemployment. 

 An increasingly large portion of Kenya’s foreign exchange inflows are remittances by non-resident Kenyans who work in the US, Middle East, Europe and Asia.

While economic activity faltered following the 2008 global economic recession, growth resumed in the last five years reaching 5.7% in 2019 placing Kenya as one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the world bank medium-term gross domestic product growth (GDP) is expected to rise to 5.9% in 2020 (the Covid 19 pandemic might alter that prediction). [16]

Kenya has met some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  targets, including reduced child mortality, near universal primary school enrollment, and narrowed gender gaps in education.

Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s success stories from its growing youthful population, a dynamic private sector, highly skilled workforce, improved infrastructure, a new constitution, and its pivotal role in East Africa.

8. Ethiopia – $103.607 billion

Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. In 2001 Ethiopia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. [18]

And in 2005 Ethiopia was one of several countries that benefited from 100 percent debt relief of loans from the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank.

In 2000, Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa, was the third-poorest country in the world. With more than 50% of the population lived below the global poverty line, the highest poverty rate in the world. 

But the country’s economic story has gotten better since then. 

From 2000 to 2018, Ethiopia was the third-fastest growing country of 10 million or more people in the world, as measured by GDP per capita. [19]

The country’s poverty rate fell to 31% by 2015, which was the last time Ethiopia’s poverty level was assessed by the World Bank. Life expectancy rose from about 52 in 2000 to 66 in 2017, and infant mortality more than halved over that period.

This growth was driven by government investment in infrastructure, as well as sustained progress in the agricultural and service sectors. More than 70% of Ethiopia’s population is still employed in the agricultural sector, but services have surpassed agriculture as the principal source of GDP.

Ethiopia has the lowest level of income-inequality in Africa and one of the lowest in the world, with a Gini coefficient comparable to that of the Scandinavian countries.[20]

But Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, due both to rapid population growth and a low starting base. 

9. Ghana – $69.757 billion

Nigeria might be the richest African country but Ghana is that country that most Nigerians now love more as their residential space, than their own. I am a Nigerian and it is a fact. In fact we consider Ghana our second home.

The economy is a mixture of private and public enterprise. About three-fifths of the GDP is derived from the services sector, agriculture contributes almost one-fifth, and industry about one-fourth.

High growth momentum since 2017 has consistently placed Ghana among Africa’s 10 fastest-growing economies. Ghana’s economy continued to expand in 2019, with real GDP growth estimated at 7.1%. The industrial sector, with average annual growth exceeding 10%, was a major driver of growth in the three years to 2019.

10. Tanzania – $61.032 billion

Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Tanzania has sustained relatively high economic growth over the last decade, averaging 6–7% a year.

All land in Tanzania is owned by the government, which can lease land for up to 99 years.

Tanzania’s economic freedom score is 61.7, making its economy the 89th freest in the 2020 Index.  Tanzania has largely completed its transition to a market economy, though the government retains a presence in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, energy, and mining.

The economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for slightly less than one-quarter of GDP and employs about 65% of the work force, although gold production in recent years has increased to about 35% of exports. 

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