There is a lot of growth and development ongoing on the continent; even the poorest countries in Africa are rapidly making changes, and experiencing growth in their economies and the quality of life of their citizens.
Corruption remains a key issue; government officials and political figures remain largely outside the reach of the law, and as a result even what appear to well thought out solutions to the endemic poverty on the continent are often not effectively implemented.
There is also the debate about the effects of migration; and what can be done to stop the trend of young people, especially from sub-Saharan Africa leaving with their human capital to take up residence elsewhere.
Top 30 Poorest Countries In Africa
1. South Sudan
GDP Per Capita: $516
South Sudan is Africa’s poorest country with a GDP per capita of $516. In the poor country’s defense; South Sudan is also Africa’s youngest country- having only just gained independence in 2011. Furthermore, that independence was achieved on the back of a long and costly war.
South Sudan is sorely lacking in infrastructure, and a government structure. However, not everything is bad about this country. With a population of about 10 million, living in a land area of about 633,344km2, there is plenty of potential for social and economic development.
About 95% of the country’s income comes from the export of crude oil. This makes the country extremely vulnerable to shocks in the oil market. There is a desperate humanitarian situation in the country; famine, infant mortality, and HIV/AIDS are some of the biggest problems.
Presently, the UN reports that around 7.7 million people are facing severe food insecurity, and around 1.5 million children are suffering severe malnutrition. The situation is indeed dire, and ongoing efforts are being made to provide food aid.
GDP Per Capita: $891
Burundi has traditionally been listed as the continents poorest until that position was usurped by South Sudan. This is a country in east Africa; within the Great Rift Valley region. Burundi’s neighbors include Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burundi is a small country; and is completely enclosed by its neighbors mentioned above.
Burundi’s poverty has been attributed to the fact that it is quite a volatile country; there have been far too many bouts of ethnic cleansing, and there has even been outright civil war.
With hundreds of thousands of people killed; and much of its infrastructure destroyed, the country became unattractive to investors, leading to it becoming very poor, and undeveloped. Much has been discussed about Burundi in public domain; but key issues such as food insecurity, ethnic tension and violence, unemployment, and lack of access to good healthcare remain serious concerns.
3. Central African Republic
GDP Per Capita: 1,127
Central African Republic is located in central Africa; it is a country of about 5.5 million people, which occupies a land area that covers 620,000km2. Central African Republic is a poor country, but it is not a desperate country.
Desperation arises from not knowing how to meet one’s needs, or how to escape from an impeding danger. None of those situations qualify CAR. The country is a major producer of sorghum, cassava, millet, and plantain.
The country needs to improve production of these foods, and to add new cash crops as well. A solution will also have to be found for the tsetse fly problem which impedes animal husbandry.
Presently, however, there remains quite volatile; violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes; just as agriculture and other social and commercial activities have been disrupted.
GDP Per Capita: 1,374
Somalia is a country in the horn of Africa; its neighbors are Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya. The country has a population of 17 million living in a land area of 637,657km2; including extensive coastlines into the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.
Despite that GDP per capita of $1,374 there is plenty of potential in the country; although that potential has been strongly inhibited by the volatile nature of the country. Somalia has suffered from too much violence, and even now the country cannot be said to be peaceful.
Somalia depends on money sent from workers abroad, and from the local telecommunications industry. The livestock industry is largely informal and nomadic.
Somalia is a major problem for the international community; sexual violence, unexplained killings, and utter destruction of infrastructure have made this a place of poverty and hunger.
5. DR Congo
GDP Per Capita: 1,474
DR Congo is a case of a country being great; but still suffering from poverty. This country is located in central Africa; and has a population of around 95 million people, living in a land area of 2,345,409 km2- the second largest land area of any country in Africa.
But why is a country blessed with such extensive land poor? DR Congo has very poor infrastructure which undermines the people’s productivity. The people toil hard in their farms but they are unable to send their produce to areas where they will be bought for better profit because the roads and rail network are poor.
Despite these problems the country looks poised for a prosperous future because the people are hardworking in every aspect of life.
Nevertheless, DRC is home to the largest number of food insecure people; which means that it is the site of the world’s biggest food crisis. This is caused by poor harvests, unemployment, bad infrastructure, and violence.
GDP Per Capita: 1,556
Mozambique is a Portuguese speaking country in southeast Africa. It has a population of 31 million people living in a land area of 801,590km2. The country has an extensive coastline into the Indian Ocean.
Mozambique has a GDP per capita of $1,556 making it one of Africa’s poorest countries, but the country is not hopeless.
The mining industry is the most important in the country, but other industries that are seeing steady growth include the production of raw sugar, raw tobacco, cereals, and oily seeds. Climate change and patches of bad weather present a big challenge; even though 80 percent of the country practice subsistence agriculture; food security is not assured.
GDP Per Capita: 1,600
Niger is a country in West Africa; its neighbors include Nigeria, Burkina Faso, chad, and Benin republic. The country has a population of about 14 million people living in a land area of 1,267,000 km2.
The country has a GDP per capita of $1,600 and that low GDP figure has to do with the fact that most of the country’s land is very arid; thus making large scale agriculture quite difficult.
Niger earns most of its income from the mining of gold and radioactive chemicals, although it has recently embarked on a drive to become a major hub in the production of oily seeds. Animal husbandry is also a sector of great potential in the country.
Niger suffers greatly from violent extremism; which puts the people at risk, presents a challenge to economic growth, and makes food security impossible to achieve.
GDP Per Capita: 1,682
Malawi is a country in east Africa; some of its neighbors within the rift valley region include Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. The country is quite small; it has a population of around 19 million people living in a land area of 118,484 km2.
Malawi is estimated to have a GDP per capita of $1682, and is classified as one of the least developed countries in the world. This may be attributed to the fact that most of the population live in rural areas, and they engage in subsistence agriculture.
Malawi dos not have much land, and so the area available for large scale agriculture is limited. The country’s economy does not have much depth, which means there is need for fiscal discipline- something sorely lacking in most of sub-Saharan Africa.
Malawi’s poverty is a major world concern; the United States agency for human development reports that 47 percent of children in Malawi are stunted as a result of malnutrition, and that many more at risk of disease as a result of poor nutrition.
GDP Per Capita: $1,787
Chad is a country in North Africa, although some of the country technically falls into central Africa. The population is 16 million, and they live in a land area that measures 1,284,000km2. That is ample land for such a small population; and it shows that there is great potential in agriculture if the following challenges can be surmounted.
At least a third of Chadian land is the Sahara desert, while another third is Sahel or semi desert land. If agriculture is going to be the out from poverty for this country, the substantial investments are going to be needed to irrigate the land.
Chad suffers from widespread food insecurity; the country depends heavily on food aid as millions of people face malnutrition and the possibility of starvation. Aside from the country’s arid nature, an additional problem of terrorism has made it nearly impossible for farmers to cultivate the land, leading widespread hunger.
GDP Per Capita: $1,788
Liberia is a country in West Africa; the country has a population of around 5 million people, living in a land area that measures 111,369 km2. Liberia has a very interesting culture; one that is a mixture of African Americans, afro Caribbean’s, and native African tribes; all of whom have become interwoven.
Liberia has a GDP per capita of $1,788; and is classified as a poor country by all available metrics. Liberia’s history of social volatility has no doubt contributed to the poverty in the country; Liberia cannot attract sufficient investments to keep its population employed.
The country however, has some potential in agriculture, if that can be harnessed properly. Wood is already an important export; and if there is proper planning it can be sustained in a form of planning and logging cycles. The deforested land can also be converted for agricultural purposes.
The following is a more extensive list of the poorest countries in Africa.
|GDP per capita ($)
|Central African Republic
The poorest countries in Africa are mostly recovering from the effects of war or similar social calamities. These effects can decades to wear off so as to enable societies reposition themselves economically. Despite the grim picture painted by these GDP figures; there is hope for the continent as most are starting to build infrastructure to facilitate production.