Africa is poor not because of a lack of resources; the continent is poor because the majority of its people are poor. In fact, most of the world’s poor live in Africa. The continent has not had the best leadership, and this has caused a lack of infrastructure development which has, in turn, resulted in the inability of the people to meet their needs.
While the yardstick for defining poverty often changes from place to place and also with time, it must be stated that a good number of Africa’s poor are helpless. With a total income of less than US $1 a day, they live in abject poverty and have no way of getting the basic things of life such as nutritious food, good clothes, and decent accommodation.
Generally, Africa’s poor also lack access to good healthcare, they have no savings, and they are plunged into even deeper poverty after their working years are over. Sub-Saharan countries have done little to improve the living conditions of their people, who despite a culture of being hard-working are not able to escape the harsh reality that comes with the countries they find themselves in.
To determine the poorest African countries, we can adopt the same economic model used in determining the richest African countries. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the Top 20 Poorest Countries in Africa By GDP Per Capita (PPP).
Top 20 Poorest Countries In Africa By GDP per Capita
|| African Poorest Countries
|| GDP Per Capita (PPP)
|| The Central African Republic
|| The Democratic Republic Of Congo
|| South Sudan
|| Sierra Leone
|| Burkina Faso
|| The Gambia
Africa is one of the richest continents in the world in terms of mineral resources, favorable weather, and many more, but as rich as the continent is, it’s totally different story to most countries as Africa serve has to site for some of the poorest countries in the world. NaijaQuest takes a look at the poorest countries in Africa in terms of GDP per capita.
With regard to many years of disasters, political instability, cruel leadership, poor decision-making, and frequent embezzlement of public funds, many African countries have been plagued by poor economic standards.
Details Of The Poorest African Countries
GDP Per Capita: $727
Burundi is a country in Eastern Africa. Burundi became an independent country in 1962, and now has a population of 11,865,821. With a GDP per capita of $727, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. In fact, more than half of its population lives on less than $1 per day.
Burundi has suffered serious developmental set-backs over the years; it has had a number of coups, ethnic cleansing, genocides, and civil wars. Such an environment is unsuitable for economic growth; the country has not been able to build the necessary infrastructure that will power a good economy. Going by the country’s record of socio-political instability, it is also deemed a high-risk area, thus unattractive to foreign direct investments which could stimulate the economy by providing jobs.
The economy of Burundi is majorly dependent on the agriculture sector which contributes 70% and 54% of the country’s labour force and GDP respectively. With the view to overcoming future financial issues, Burundi concentrates on self-sufficiency but in addition to this, the government is seeking other nations for assistance.
2. The Central African Republic CAR
GDP per capita: $823
The Central African Republic is a country in central Africa; which is also in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country is landlocked, has a land area of 620,000 square kilometers, and became independent in 1960. The Central African Republic has a population of about 4.6 million inhabitants, most of whom are very poor.
The CAR has suffered years of political instability, culminating into civil war. For much of the last 40 years, the Central African Republic has been a theatre of coups, protests, political wars, and religious conflicts. The Central African Republic has been the site of one of the bloodiest cases of ethnic cleansing we have seen in the last 20 years.
Even now there is very little social control as much of the country is lawless. In a situation like that, it is no surprise that the people are poor. There are simply no infrastructures for power development, despite the rich mineral deposits including uranium, gold, diamonds, and so on.
3. The Democratic Republic Of Congo
GDP capita: $843
The Democratic Republic Of The Congo is a country in Central Africa. With a population of 92 million people, this is one of the biggest countries in the world, and the biggest case in point for the population not being a sure pathway for economic prosperity.
DR Congo generates the lion’s share of its revenue from its most vibrant sectors which include forestry, agriculture, and hunting. Besides, it maintains a significant oil sector that yields petroleum for exportation and domestic needs.
The DRC has mineral deposits including uranium, lithium, gold, and many more. However, there is little development on the ground to help the people. The country has made little economic progress over the years, and ordinary people are forced to do odd jobs with no employment rights.
There is also very little social development; the people have little civil rights, and they are unable to demand social change from the government.
Somalia is a country in the horn of Africa. It has a population of about 16 million and occupies about 637,657 Square Kilometers of land. The country is exposed to the sea in the north and the east, and so there is much potential in the area of trade.
Somalia’s crippled economy is a direct result of the unrest that has been ravaging the country since 1986. With an underdeveloped economy subject to military control, Somalia has remained one of the world’s most impoverished countries. The best part of its resources (which could have been harnessed in strengthening the economy) has been mishandled by the Somalian armies.
Economically, Somalia depends on telecommunications, foreign remittances, and livestock. However, these are still not enough to improve the country’s economic condition.
GDP per capita: $1,213
Niger is a West-African country with substantial mineral endowments and an active agriculture sector.
This country is landlocked and has neighbors Nigeria, Libya, Chad, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, and Algeria. Much of the land is desert land, unsuitable for agriculture.
The economy of Niger is further strengthened by foreign exports and a substantial volume of domestic production. Despite its high level of domestic production, Niger fails to achieve standardized economic growth because most of its exports go to other less-developed African countries. With a view to stabilizing the economy, the Nigerien government has implemented flexible privatization policies. Currently, Niger is estimated with a GDP per capita of $1,213.
The newly stable country has been working hard to create strategic relations with its neighbors, especially Nigeria. Nevertheless, there is still a problem of deep-rooted poverty. In fact, food security seems like a dream that may take several years to become reality.
Malawi is a country in East Africa. The country is landlocked; neighbours are Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The country is quite small; it has a population of about 19 million people.
Malawi remains one of the least developed countries in Africa; there is very little infrastructure or industry. Most of the people practice subsistence farming, and they mostly live in rural areas. There is quite a tourism industry in the country, and this has given rise to the production of arts and crafts.
Presently, most people earn below poverty wages in the country. Farmers are starting to meet together to help improve their lives, but there is still a long way to go before the country can start to feel the impact of these moves.
For a long time, the country has relied on aid disbursements from the IMF and other international bodies, but there are serious concerns about corruption, and the monies not being used for any meaningful development.
GDP per capita: $1,331
Mozambique is a country in East Africa. The country is located right on the eastern coast of Africa; with a long coastline facing the Indian Ocean. The country has a land area of 801,590 km2 and a population of about 30,066,648. Most of the land in this country is arable land.
Mozambique is a less developed African country that depends heavily on subsistence agriculture. Economic growth in Mozambique has been plagued by setbacks resulting from two major factors which are the overdependence on foreign aid and a high level of inflation. But in order to revive the economy and keep it at a steady rate of growth, the Mozambiquan government has laid its hands on macroeconomic changes. Currently, the country’s GDP per capita is no better off than $1,331.
There is a need to synchronize the work of farmers so as stabilize prices. The government can also set up food processing plants to help synchronize the efforts of the farmers. Processed foods can then be exported for higher prices. Mozambique also has extensive mineral deposits and must start to exploit them so as to provide infrastructure.
GDP per capita: $1,413
Liberia was established as a colony for former American slaves. However, it would seem that not much was done to help this young country stand on its feet. The country is located in West Africa, close to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. Liberia also faces the Atlantic Ocean. The country covers 111,369 Kms and has a population of about 5 million people.
Liberia is one of the poorest African countries located in West Africa that relies heavily on agriculture as well as mineral resources. In order to expand its GDP level, the country depends heavily on the exportation of minerals including rubber and iron ore. Previously, Liberia had sustainable economic standards but as a result of the Civil War, the country has been ravaged by several disasters including crippled infrastructure, misunderstandings, political unrest, and the absence of capital resources. In order to revive the economy, the government of Liberia is gearing efforts toward using modernized technology in improving the agricultural sector. Currently, Liberia has a GDP per capita of $1,428.0.
The country is blessed with good land and various mineral resources. Nevertheless, Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in Africa; with less than 15% of its population being officially employed.
9. South Sudan
South Sudan is a country in Central Africa. Its neighbors are Ethiopia, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Kenya. The country has a land area of 644,329 km2 and a population of about 12,778,250. This is one of the youngest countries in the world; it only became independent in 2011.
However, there is hope for the future; the country has oil, gas, iron, chromium, tungsten, and copper, among other mineral resources.
10. Sierra Leone
GDP per capita: $1,608
In Sierra Leone, agriculture contributes substantially to employment but the country is yet to achieve any reasonable growth due to inadequate industrial support from the government. Meanwhile, the Sierra Leonean economy continually declines due to excessive reliance on mineral exploitation.
Besides the mining industry, Sierra Leone hasn’t achieved any reasonable development in its various industries and the reason is that the government supposes the country’s gold and diamonds are enough to convince foreigners to establish investments in the country. Currently, the GDP per capita of Sierra Leone stands at $1,608.
GDP per capita: $1,697
Over the years, Madagascar has taken advantage of its sufficient natural endowments (such as minerals and agricultural produce) to facilitate its export basis. Under the influence of its mining and agricultural sectors, Madagascar has been able to maintain income stability. On a sad note, Madagascar remains a poor African nation as a result of its recurring political disasters which have discouraged foreigners from establishing investments on its terrain. Meanwhile, Madagascar focuses attention on its tourism sector to make it serve as an additional means for generating revenue. Despite having a favourable export basis with vibrant agricultural and mining sectors, Madagascar remains a poor African country with a GDP per capita of $1,697.
GDP per capita: $1,820
Eritrea is a country on the horn of Africa, endowed with mineral potential and this is why the exportation of minerals (including marble, granite, gold, and copper) contributes immensely to its revenue basis. At the same time, workers’ remittances from foreign sources contribute more than 27% of Eritrea’s GDP. Despite a number of setbacks involving inadequate income generation, Eritrea is yet considered one of the fast-growing economies in Africa. Currently, the Eritrean government is working towards improving domestic employment as a basis for discouraging apparent foreign dominance. With a GDP per capita of $1,820, Eritrea is regarded as one of the poorest countries in Africa.
GDP per capita: $1,821
Togo is a small West African on the Gulf of Guinea. The country has a population of around 8 million and is known for its beaches
Togo is another underdeveloped African country that depends heavily on subsistence agriculture. Unfortunately, the country’s GDP has been hit by unfavourable harvests and inadequate rainfall. Though the latter factors contribute to Togo’s poor rate of economic growth, Togo is striving hard to transform the shape of its economy. In that case, the country maintains a vibrant labour force which has added paramount importance to its standards. To pave the way for another source of revenue, Togo has been favoured by meaningful investments in cotton cultivation. At the moment, the country has a GDP per capita of $1,821.
14. Guinea Bissau
GDP per capita: $1,951
Guinea Bissau is a West African country considered one of the most impoverished nations on the African continent. Fishing and agriculture are the major sources of revenue for the country. Meanwhile, Guinea Bissau is surrounded by chaos and economic disaster resulting from rebellious activities. Though its economy has long undergone a series of irregularities, Guinea Bissau is gradually getting out of the woods with the support of recent developments. Notably, one of these developments is a favourable increase in the production of cashew crops. Currently, the GDP per capita of Guinea Bissau stands at $1,951.
15. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, it has been hit by political instability, which has resulted in poor growth.
Burkina Faso still relies heavily on foreign aid, but there are suspicions of corruption as to the use of the provided funds.
As a means of sustenance, more than 75% of Burkina Faso’s population depends heavily on agriculture. Unfortunately, the country has been hit by a decreasing volume of production as a result of crude technology and inconsistent rainfall. In addition, the country’s economy has suffered severe setbacks resulting from soil fragility, shortage of resources, and high population density. As bad as it is, Burkina Faso continues to reek of poverty regardless of its efforts aimed at lessening the trade deficit, advancing in microeconomic aspects and improving private investment.
GDP per capita: $2,271
Mali is a country in West Africa, with a diverse landscape and rich history. The country has a lot of potential for trade and commerce because it has important river ports.
Mali is poor despite its mineral deposits and continues to be plagued by political instability.
For the purpose of sustenance, the major part of Mali’s local population depends heavily on agriculture. The country is barely self-sufficient and despite the financial assistance it derives from international organizations such as The World Bank, its economy continues to lag behind. Instead of mastering financial difficulties, Mali bears the burden of excess debt. With the motive of guiding against future financial difficulties, Mali is now focusing attention on its fishing and mining industry situated in Bali. As it stands, Mali’s GDP per capita is worth $2,271.
17. The Gambia
The Gambia is one of the African poorest countries with insufficient mineral resources. Due to this, the country barely generates substantial export revenues, making livestock the only means of economic sustenance. Due to insufficient agricultural land, Gambia finds it difficult to expand its volume of production. To save its economy from adversity, Gambia largely depends on foreign donations. In order to attain sustainable economic standards, the Gambian government urges citizens to establish small-scale businesses.
The Gambia is still one of Africa’s poorest countries, but that may change any time soon. The country is located in West Africa and is very small in both land area and population.
Many of the people practice subsistence farming, but much of the economy depends on tourism.
Guinea is another African country that has been hit with political instability, which has halted its growth. With a GPD per capita of $2320 this is still one of the poorest places in the world, but looking at the bright side, there is plenty of potential for growth.
The country is looking to change its economic story by making strategic partnerships, and by exploiting the natural resources it has. Bauxite and iron mining provides a lot of the money for the government, while Guineans working outside the country also send money home.
Chad is a country in West Africa that has also suffered at the hands of dictatorships, as well as political unrest, and civil war. Unfortunately, there is very little infrastructure on the ground to help the people make ends meet. More than half the population of the country lives below the poverty line.
Many of the people are subsistence farmers; raising farm animals is very popular in this country. The Cotton industry used to be big and is making a slow comeback, but it is still early days to see what can be made out of it.
20. The Republic of Benin
GDP per capita: $2,552
The Benin Republic is one of the less developed countries in Africa due to excess dependence on cotton production and subsistence agriculture. The country’s economy is dominated by foreigners who own most of the companies. Despite its high level of production, Benin Republic is not reaping substantial profits because many companies are under foreign ownership and dominance. In order to generate more revenue for itself, the government of Benin Republic has centered its investments on local products including pineapples, peanuts, and cocoa. With a GDP per capita of $2,552, Benin Republic is considered the twentieth poorest African country.
The poorest countries in Africa are mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa; they have endured long periods of mismanagement of available resources. Many of these countries have had dictatorships that have practically scared away investors and succeeded in impoverishing the people. Sadly, many of these countries are still suffering from political instability which is a symptom of poverty.