Africa is one of the largest continents in the world in terms of land mass. But when it comes to monetary wealth, Africa has most of the poorest countries in the world. However, not all African countries are poor; there are equally some wealthy countries in Africa but the number is far less than that of the poor ones. The ranking of richest African countries is based on the Gross Domestic Product: Purchasing Power Parity (GDP: PPP) which gives the value of all the final goods and services produced within a country in any given specific year. We will look at the top 20 richest African countries, their GDP and their foreign reserves.
Top 20 Richest African Countries
A nation’s GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates is the sum value for all goods and services produced in the country in any given year assessed based on prevailing prices of the same products in the United States. This is the measure adopted by most economists when comparing living conditions or use of resources across countries.
20. Equatorial Guinea
GDP: $26.147 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $2 Billion
While Equatorial Guinea has a relatively small population, it has broken bounds on oil reserves and is currently one of the largest producers of oil in Africa. Even as rich as oil has made the country, its citizens still suffer as a result of inequality in the distribution of resources, while the very corrupt leaders enjoy all the benefit there is.
GDP: $20.664 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $1 Billion
With the declining state of oil production in Gabon, it is still one of the highest producers of oil in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last forty years, the country has been quite dependent on oil to sustain its economy. But more recently, it is trying to diversify and branch out into many other areas so as to have a diversified economy.
GDP: $22.416 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $2 Billion
Because of the sharp decline of Zambia’s agricultural produce in 2013, there has been a great reduction in the country’s real GDP by 6.5 percent. Apart from agriculture which is a key sector that generates good revenue for the government, it’s Copper accounts for 70% of Zambia’s revenue from exports. Currently, Zambia stands at the Eighteenth position on the list of Largest Economies in Africa with an estimated GDP of $22.416 Billion.
GDP: $23.053 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $3 Billion
Uganda most certainly has come a long way from its economic turmoil. It is on record that the 2009/10 fiscal year of Uganda was declared with the poverty rate of 24.5% but this figure reduced to 22.2% in the 2012/13 fiscal year. As at then, GDP growth was estimated at 5.2 percent in the same period. This was mainly achieved through stringent fiscal discipline and proper management of the country’s resources by the government. Botswana is rich in diamond but also in strong farming, tourism and financial servicing.Currently, Uganda’s GDP is valued at $23.053 billion.
GDP: $48.14 Billion
Foreign Exchange Rate: $2.89 Billion
The economy of Cameroon has come a long way from what it used to be, even though the people are still largely farmers, the country’s natural resources are being put to very good use in improving the lives of the citizens. The southern rainforest has vast timber reserves, estimated to cover 37% of Cameroon’s total land area.
15. Ivory Coast
GDP: $32 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $4.6 Billion
As a result of the significant infrastructural (edit) projects, Ivory Coast saw an 8.8 percent growth rate in 2013. Meanwhile, the country’s economy is driven by some of the key sectors. Based on the forecast, the growth rate of Ivory Coast is likely to stand at 9% due to the country’s economic futures which are considered bright and auspicious. Currently, the overall GDP of Ivory Coast stands at $32 billion.
14. The Democratic Republic of Congo
GDP: $30.8 Billion
Foreign Exchange Rate: $5.239 Million
The economy of the Republic of the Congo is a mixture of subsistence hunting and agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum extraction and support services, and a government spending, characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Nowadays the country is increasingly converting natural gas to electricity rather than burning it, greatly improving energy prospects.
GDP: $36.6 Billion
Foreign Exchange Rate: $4.174 Billion
The United Republic of Tanzania is the second largest economy in the East African Community and the twelfth largest in Africa. The country is largely dependent on agriculture for employment, accounting for about half of the employed workforce. Even though Tanzanian is a rich country, an estimated 34 percent of Tanzanians currently live in poverty. The economy has been transitioning from a command economy to a market economy since 1985. Although total GDP has increased since these reforms began, GDP per capita dropped sharply at first, and only exceeded the pre-transition figure in around 2007.
GDP: $45.611 billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $5.699 Billion
The Tunisian economy is diverse and market-oriented with a significant foundation in mining, manufacturing and tourism. The latest 2012 figures for Tunisia’s GDP stands at $104.4 billion coming from a growth rate of 2.7%. Agriculture contributes 8.9% while industry and services contribute both 29.6% and 61.5% respectively.
GDP: $50 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $7.308 Billion
Ghana’s growing economy is largely achieved through years of sound management, positively competitive business environment, and sustained reductions in poverty levels. Ghana’s economy is built on a diverse and rich resource base, not only relying on natural resources (Gold, cocoa, timber, bauxite and more recently, crude oil) which it has in abundance but on other sectors like services which accounts for 50% of GDP.
GDP: $51 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $3.147 Billion
Ethiopia is among the non-oil producing African countries with the fastest growing economies and has managed to sustain a high single digit annual growth rate since 2004 and is estimated to expand by 11.3 percent in the 2012/13 budget year.
Agriculture contributes to almost half of Ethiopia’s GDP and offers about 85% of all employment in the country. Ethiopia’s GDP stood at $103.1 billion as at 2012. The government has invested in ways to privatize and restructure her policies which are beginning to attract foreign investments in the country. However, it’s GDP has dropped a lot to $51 billion considering previous years.
GDP: $53.40 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $9.698 Billion
The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in Southeast and Central Africa. Agriculture is a major employer; the country traditionally exports tea and coffee and has more recently begun to export fresh flowers to Europe. The service industry is also a major economic driver. Kenya is a member of the East African Community. Compared to other African countries, Kenya enjoys relatively high political and social stability.
GDP: $63 billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $504.9 Million
More than once, we have mentioned oil and gas as the main source of income for countries on this list. Sudan also falls into that category but in a more diverse way. It depends on oil but with a third of its GDP contributed by agriculture. Cotton and peanuts constitute its major agricultural exports. You may not notice a “Made in Sudan” tag on the shirt you buy in Khartoum but cotton from Sudan has fueled the textile industry in many parts of the world.
GDP: $76.52 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $69.35 Billion
Libya is largely dependent on its oil reserve and petroleum products for most of its revenue and just about 20% of all of Libya’s GDP comes from the service and construction sectors. The small number of population with a large amount of revenue from oil suggests the reason Libya has been described as an “Upper Middle Economy” by the world bank. Since 2000, Libya has recorded favourable growth rates with an estimated 10.6% growth of GDP in 2010 and 76.3% in 2012 after plummeting in 2011.
GDP: $114.7 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $22.97 Billion
Morocco’s GDP (PPP) stands at $168.9 billion, making it the 6th among the richest countries in Africa. Morocco is largely dependent on agriculture and its proximity to Europe is part of what is influencing Morocco’s market and economy which it has capitalized on to build a diverse, open market-oriented economy. Apart from phosphorus for which the country is the world’s third-largest producer, there are also revenues coming from tourism, textiles, apparel and overall, Morocco is the second richest non-oil-producing country in Africa after Egypt.
GDP: $129.785 billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $23.63 Billion
Angola is fifth among the richest countries in Africa with a GDP of $129.785 billion. The country enjoys an extensive reserve of oil and gas resources, hydroelectric power, diamonds, and rich agricultural land but still remains a fairly weak economy. Part of the reason is not far from poor management of resources and extreme corruption. According to Transparency International, Angola is rated Angola among the 10 most corrupt countries in Africa and 157 out of 174 countries rated. Being the second largest producer of crude oil in Africa following Nigeria, oil production contributes a very large percentage of foreign exchange.
GDP: $219.453 billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $114.653 Billion
Located in northern Africa, Algeria is the 4th largest economy among the wealthiest African countries with the most recent GDP figure standing at $219.453 billion. Algeria is a country where the government practically exerts a lot of control on most infrastructures. Crude oil contributes the most revenues and foreign currency for Algeria accounting for some 60% of budget revenues, up to 30% of GDP, and more than 95% of export earnings.
GDP: $275.748 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $38.210 Billion
Egypt has enjoyed quite a stable economy and continuous growth since the past quarter-century averaging 4%–5%, however, the lack of transparency and freedom has not allowed growth to get to the expected levels. There is still no doubt that Egypt is among the richest countries in Africa with a well-developed energy sector that is based on coal, oil, natural gas, and hydropower.
2. South Africa
GDP: $341.216 billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $50.501 Billion
South Africa is the second richest country in Africa and one of the fastest developing nation in the world. It is endowed with lots of natural resources including gold, diamond, platinum to name a few. It is classified as a middle emerging market and unlike most other countries in Africa that depend on a single source for revenue, South Africa is diversified. The country’s stock exchange is rated the 18th Largest in the world.
GDP: $594.257 Billion
Foreign Exchange Reserve: $40.560 Billion
Nigeria comes first among the richest countries in Africa with the most recent GDP figures standing at $594.257 billion. The 160-million people Nigerian market is seen as one of Africa’s largest market but this is more of a consumer market that practically buys more than it sells. Crude oil accounts for more than 85% of all foreign exchange and revenue generation by the giant country hence, is tied to fluctuations in the price of crude. The government has not made strong effort to diversify the economy to some other sectors like services and industries.
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