The 10 Richest Countries in Africa 

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Measuring with GDP, the ten richest countries in Africa are Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Tanzania. If you look at GNI per capita, the list is different. 

After Asia, Africa is the second largest and second most populated continent. It covers an impressive 20% of the world’s total land area and is home to well over 1 billion people. The continent’s rich stores of sugar, salt, diamonds, gold, copper, and other resources made it a prime target for colonization and control by other nations, especially in the 1880s. Known as “the Scramble for Africa,” this was a period where European empires like France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Great Britain controlled nearly all of the continent. The effects of this colonization are still felt today; many of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa. There are wealthy countries, too. In this article, we’ll first explore the ten richest countries in Africa by GDP, and then the richest based on GNI per capita, which produces a different set of countries.

The 10 richest countries in Africa by GDP

The GDP (gross domestic product) is the most common metric for a country’s wealth. It measures the market output, which is the monetary value of all the goods and services produced by an economy over a year.

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#1. Nigeria

Nigeria has been independent from Great Britain since 1960. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP in 2021 was $440.8 billion. The country boasts the largest market in Africa and natural resources like minerals, precious stones, and oil. It’s one of Africa’s major oil producers, though the economy has been less dependent on oil in recent years. It has a growing tech industry and excellent potential as a green energy hub.

#2. South Africa

In 1994, South Africa ended apartheid, which had a huge impact on its economy. In 2021, South Africa’s GDP was $419 billion. The country is the most advanced, productive, and diversified economy on the continent and produces the most platinum, manganese, chromium, and vanadium in the world. The market can be divided into one of three sectors: primary (agriculture, fishing, and mining), secondary (manufacturing, construction, and utilities), and tertiary (trade, transport, and services). While South Africa is the 2nd wealthiest African country by GDP, it’s also the world’s most unequal country. Just 10% of the population controls more than 80% of the wealth.

#3. Egypt

Egypt gained independence from Great Britain in 1922. The World Bank’s 2021 report shows a 404.1 billion GDP for the nation. Its economy is built on agriculture (like cotton, sugar, and cereals), tourism, chemical exports, and manufacturing. Because of its location, it trades well with the rest of the African continent and the Middle East.

#4. Algeria

Algeria had a $163 billion GDP in 2021. After a nearly decade-long war against France, Algeria gained independence in 1962. Since then, Algeria has grown into the 4th-largest market in Africa and a large exporter of oil and natural gas. Because fossil fuels aren’t a sustainable source of income, Algeria is looking to diversify, especially in the renewable energy market since it’s in a good position for solar power.

#5. Morocco

Morocco’s GDP was 142.9 billion in 2021, according to the World Bank. This North African country is right between the African and European continents, which makes it a great place for tourism. Other income sources include manufacturing, agriculture, and exports of wood, cotton, fruit, and phosphates. In fact, it has ⅔ of the world’s reserves of phosphates, which are used to manufacture fertilizers. The country is also working hard to be a leader in solar energy.

#6. Ethiopia

Ethiopia, the only African country never colonized, had a 111.3 billion GDP in 2021. It was one of the fastest-growing economies for many years, mostly due to the agricultural sector. It has a well-developed agro-processing sector (processed food, drinks, and livestock products), a textile/apparel sector, and leather goods. Sugar and coffee (Ethiopia is said to be the birthplace of coffee) are also a big deal, while the service industry is growing, too.

#7. Kenya

Kenya became independent from Britain in 1963. In 2021, it had a $110.3 billion GDP, and it’s considered the economic, financial, commercial, and logistics center of East Africa. While it’s the most industrialized country in the region, agriculture is still essential to the economy. Kenya also has stores of titanium, gold, and rare earth minerals, as well as a fast-growing tech industry. The country’s population is very young, which will have a massive impact on the economy.

#8. Ghana

This West African country takes the 8th richest spot with a 77.59 billion GDP. It’s famous for its gold production, though it also exports commodities like oil, gas, diamonds, and cocoa. With Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana produces the most cocoa beans in the world. Its services industry is also bringing in lots of money as the education, health, and ITC sectors grow. Ghana is considered one of the most stable countries in the region, which helps its economic outlook long-term.

#9. Côte d’Ivoire

In 2021, Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) had a GDP of about $70 billion. It achieved independence in 1960 and has since become one of the most stable economies in West Africa. Agriculture is very important, so many businesses focus on activities like processing rubber, cashews, cocoa, cotton, and palm oil. Cocoa is one of the country’s most important products; it’s often the world’s leading supplier. Côte d’Ivoire managed the COVID-19 pandemic very well, so its economic outlook is bright.

#10. Tanzania

Tanzania’s GDP was 67.84 billion in 2021. It’s going through industrialization and owes much of its growth to transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, renewable electricity, agriculture, and mining. The country is home to lots of metals (like gold and copper) and minerals (like phosphate and graphite). Tanzania also has some of Africa’s most famous natural attractions, like national parks and Mount Kilimanjaro, though the pandemic took its toll on the tourism sector.

The GDP vs. the GNI: what’s the issue?

We listed the 10 richest countries in Africa by their GDP, but there’s another metric that produces a different list: the GNI. GNI (gross national income) represents the total dollar value of everything a country produces and the income its residents receive, either at home or while living abroad. Many experts criticize the GDP because it doesn’t consider factors like money sent back to families, how long an economic upturn or downturn might last, or the quality and longevity of goods purchased.

The 10 richest countries by GNI per capita

To get another view of wealth in Africa, here’s a list of the 10 richest countries by GNI per capita, which is the dollar value of a country’s final yearly income divided by its population.

#1. Seychelles

Seychelles’ GNI per capita is $14,540. Measuring GDP per capita also confirms the country’s status as the richest country in Africa. The tiny country is northeast of Madagascar and dependent on tourism and fisheries. This makes it especially vulnerable to climate change.

#2. Mauritius

Mauritius is an upper-middle-income country with a GNI per capita of $9,920. It’s been independent since 1968 and depends on textiles, tourism, seafood processing, energy, education/training, and information and community technology. It plans to increase its use of renewable energy.

#3. Libya

Libya’s GNI per capita was $8,700 and by the end of 2021, it was in the top 10 countries for “globally proven” oil and natural gas reserves. However, political conflict, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine have impacted Libya’s economy. Libya wants to double its oil production by 2025, but it will be a significant challenge.

#4. South Africa

South Africa makes an appearance on both of our lists with a GNI per capita of $6,530. As we mentioned earlier, it’s the most advanced and diversified economy on the continent, but severe income inequality remains a problem.

#5. Gabon

Gabon’s GNI per capita is $6,440. It has lots of natural resources and is a leader in net zero emission initiatives, though it’s also a large oil producer. Its economy also depends on wood exports and mining.

#6. Botswana

Botswana has a $6,430 GNI per capita. It’s become one of the fastest-growing economies with lots of mineral resources. Its economy depends heavily on diamonds. It’s an upper-middle-income country moving toward a high-income country.

#7. Equatorial Guinea

Located in Central Africa, Equatorial Guinea has a GNI per capita of $5,150. It’s very small and rich in natural resources like gold, gas, oil, diamonds, and uranium. It went through a 7-year recession but is rebounding.

#8. Namibia

Namibia has a $4,650 GNI per capita. It’s rich in diamonds and uranium, which make up most of its economic strength. It’s also the 2nd most unequal country in the world.

#9. Algeria

Algeria is the second (and last) of the GDP countries to appear on our GNI per capita list. It has a $3,660 GNI per capita. Its economy depends heavily on the export of oil and natural gas, but it’s moving to diversify.

#10. Eswatini

Once known as Swaziland, Eswatini has a strong relationship with neighbor South Africa. Its economy is based on agriculture and manufacturing, which were both affected by the pandemic. Factors like weather, political uncertainty, and slower global growth will likely affect the country’s long-term economy.

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