When it comes to poverty, there are several causal factors. Some of the wildest culprits include political crises, climate change, a poor educational system, and conflicts. These issues often grow worse to keep communities ensnared in cycles of poverty as a result of sustained insufficiency in infrastructures to help make them productive. However, many of the poorest countries in Africa are also very rich in natural resources, even though they also rank high among the poorest countries in the world.
In essence, this data does not rule out the fact that these countries still have the potential to improve their economy rapidly and compete favorably with the best countries on the planet. Recent research by world experts has shown that Africa’s infrastructure is experiencing speedy growth, which will, in turn, give way for foreign investment and also broaden the capacity of industries.
Ranking data is often based on a wide range of factors, but the top two metrics used in determining a country’s wealth are Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. These two metrics are often expressed in forms that make country-to-country comparisons easy. This could be in either purchasing power party (PPP) “international dollars” (int.$) or in the US dollars (US$). The two metrics are great ways of determining how well-off or how poor a country is.
The Poorest Countries in Africa
1. Somalia – GDP per capita $225
Somalia is a Muslim-dominated country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Kenya, Gulf of Aden, and Guardafui Channel, and has an estimated 15 million population. It has however been faced with repeated crises politically that have affected the economy badly.
Citizens of the country have little to no access to efficient public facilities. Their education system is grossly degraded, the health facility is poor, and their legal system too is extremely out of place. Hence, the rights of citizens are hugely deprived. Mali authorities are also not progressive in their commitment to protecting social, cultural, and economic rights.
2. South Sudan – GDP per capita $237.44
South Sudan is currently ranked as one of Africa’s poorest nations with a GDP per capita of just $237.44. The country is also the newest in the world. After the agreement that put the never-ending conflict on hold in 2011, the youngest country was born.
But then, violence has not really ended in this state. There have been political conflicts that have continued to haunt the nation’s economy and also destabilize the polity. Over 400,00 people have been recorded dead as a result of the crisis and 4 million people displaced.
3. Burundi – GDP per capita $263.67
Burundi is located in East Africa and has a population of about 12 million people. The economy of the country is largely dependent on agriculture which is the major area of occupation of about 90% of their working class. However, the industry accounts for only about 30% of the nation’s GDP.
The country is faced with a poor legal system, poor education system, lack of economic freedom, food scarcity, poor health facilities, deepening corruption rate, and weak infrastructure. The country records a high maternal mortality rate – put at 712 deaths per 100,000 live births. This figure is among the highest on the globe!
4. Malawi – GDP per capita $399.10
Malawi is also located in the Eastern part of the continent, and it shares a border with Mozambique. The country records about 70.3% of its population living below $1.90 every day. The country is also reliant largely on agriculture and subsistence farming. Farming is responsible for about 80% of the nation’s total employment.
They also struggle to contain the spread of HIV like many countries that are equally located in that region. Statistics according to BBC show that one in every 10 residents between the age of 15 and 49 have the virus. This has resulted in about one million children being orphaned already.
5. Mozambique – GDP per capita $455.01
Mozambique struggled like many other colonies after gaining independence from the Portuguese colonial era. The country is located in the Indian Ocean in southern Africa, and despite the huge blow, the 1976 civil war that lasted for about 20 years dealt with the country’s economy, the discovery of natural gas in 2011 helped to boost it a little.
But then, Mozambique is still very under-developed. About 62.4% of the countries’ population survive on less than $2 a day. They are also faced with crises in their public health system as they struggle with the ravaging HIV.
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – GDP per capita $456.89
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rich in gold, diamonds, copper, and a few other mineral resources, but falls on the list of poorest countries in Africa. With the resources the country has, it is meant to compete favorably with rich countries in the black continent, but instead, the control of these resources has boosted a civil war that caused about 6 million deaths in the country.
There is a shortage of basic infrastructure in the country with only 17% of the country’s population having access to basic infrastructures such as electricity and public health systems. The country also records one of the highest infant mortality rates.
7. Sierra Leone – GDP per capita $465
Sierra Leone is located in West Africa and is a highly impoverished and pretty small country. The country suffered the hard effect of a decade-long brutal civil war from 1991 that shattered its infrastructure and economy.
Sierra Leone is also faced with a poor education system, high deprivation of civil liberty, and a high level of corruption from the public. These persistent issues are responsible for the country’s deepening poverty.
8. Central African Republic – GDP per capita $480.50
The Central African Republic is rich in natural resources like diamonds, gold, and oil, but consistent conflicts have resulted in hindered economic growth. After their independence from France in 1960, the country experienced a series of coups between the late 20s and the wake of the 21st century.
Then, religious violence followed between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority and has continued to plague the country. CAR has a record of about 61.8% of its citizens who are undernourished and even of the population in the cities, 90% live in slums.
9. Madagascar – GDP per capita $514.85
Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean East Africa. The country has survived countless coups and political crises following its independence from France. Two-third of the total employment of Madagascar is farming, and its citizens are deeply impoverished.
About a huge percentage of the country’s urban population resides in slums while almost half of the population of about 25.6 million are undernourished. Madagascar has a 66.3 years life expectancy.
10. Niger – GDP per capita $530
Niger is named after the Niger river, it is located in the West and has a population of about 22.3 million people that are largely reliant on agriculture – mainly subsistence farming – for survival. It is bordered by Nigeria, Benin, and Chad.
The country has made so much effort to stay afloat, however, it is consistently being battered by drought, rapidly blown population, and falling uranium prices. Niger has some potentials for mineral exports but they have struggled to no avail to take advantage.
11. Ethiopia – GDP per capita $580
With 107.5 million people, Ethiopia seconds the list of the most populous African countries. The country depends largely on agriculture, livestock, coffee export, leather and gold products. Economic activities also include manufacturing and construction, but regardless of the activities, they still experience a huge downturn in the economy.
But despite the struggling economy, it is expected to experience a gradual rise in the coming years. The ministry of finance has projected an increase in government allocation, which is projected to boost the countries’ economies in the near future.
12. Liberia – GDP per capita $583.27
Liberia is top in the list of Africa’s republic, however, the country has maintained a position in the list of the impoverished countries in Africa. Even though the country has enjoyed a good level of stability and peace since the ending of its civil war about two decades back, however, the country has not been able to figure out solutions to its major economic issues.
The nation is rich in mineral resources, but education deprivation has been a major problem that is also often blamed on the exploitation of the West.
13. Guinea Bissau – GDP per capita $590
Guinea Bissau is a former colony under Portugal and was previously recognized as Portugal Guinea before independence. The country is located in the Northwest African country and is highly impoverished among counties of the African continent.
Guinea Bissau deals in the export of palm seeds, peanuts, timber, fish, and other seafood. Their main food ingredient is rice, and they export products such as shrimp, palm seed, and peanut.
14. Eritrea – GDP per capita $642.51
Eritrea has a population of about 5.6 million. It was founded in 1993 and is located in northeast Africa. It shares borders with Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The 30-year civil war that eventually matched their independence dealt a bad hit to the nation’s economy.
It presently faces high tension along with drought that has continued to have a severe effect on its economy, and it has continued to be among the most impoverished countries in Africa. According to an estimation by the United Nations, hundreds of thousands of its citizens have had to flee for greener pastures.
15. Togo – GDP per capita $655
Togo is located in West Africa and has been battling diverse social and political issues for a long period. These persistent struggles have kept the country poor in the league of African nations. Note that Togo is also listed as one of the unhealthiest nations of the world.
Togo’s population is just about 7 million, and they are largely resident in the rural areas. As a result of the level of corruption in the country, poor educational system, and poor healthcare system among others, the country has retained a high level of poverty among its citizens.
16. Burkina Faso – GDP per capita $745
Burkina Faso, formerly known as Upper Volta sits in the middle of West Africa and is surrounded by 6 other African countries. The Country has limited resources making it very hard to operate at an optimum level. The vast population is also not helping as well along with other issues like unmanaged rural exodus, and lack of productivity in the rural areas.
The country focuses majorly on Agriculture which is not enough to cater for all and help improve the current status of the country. Notwithstanding, with such restrictions, they have managed to do better than most countries with great mineral resources.
17. Gambia – GDP per capita $800
Gambia has just less than 2 million people in the country, making it the smallest in Africa. A third of its citizens live below the $1.25 poverty line. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa and even the world at large.
They do have many of animal species belonging to the African continent. There is only a handful such as hippopotamus, crocodiles, and a massive collection of monkeys.
18. Guinea – GDP per capita $870
Despite being notable in the world in terms of mineral resources, the country is still a ruggedly poor African state. It is known as one of the world’s richest in diamond, gold, and boron mines, but it is also faced with a very unstable economy. Guinea has had recurring military regimes in the past that have badly affected the nation’s economy.
However, there are still good and amazing potentials the country can pride in with its underground and territory resources. There are huge deposits of bauxite, manganese, iron, gold, diamond, silver, and granite, where about 13 to 15% of the country’s gross domestic product is reliant on mining.
19. Uganda – GDP per capita $935
Guinea has a population of 44.27 million people, meaning that it is one of the most populated countries in Africa. Statistics showed that more than half of the total population of the country lives below the poverty line. About 56% are said to live on less than $1.25 per day.
However, government authorities have been making decisive efforts to lift citizens out of poverty. They have been making efforts in expanding the service and industrial sectors, which are largely mining and construction. In 2019, the economy of the country witnessed an upsurge of about 6.3% but still fall in the list of Africa’s poorest countries.
20. Zimbabwe – GDP per capita $1,128.21
Zimbabwe is bordered by South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana. The country has mineral resources such as gold and agriculture also as their main employment. The economy of the country is largely dependent on its tertiary industry which is responsible for about 60% of its total GDP. Initially, the economy picked up from its negative downturn in 2009, but in 2016, it slowed down again.
While it is also worth saying that it is unfair to put Zimbabwe on this list. With such a figure, they have enough to be drafted into the list of the richest countries in Africa.
What is the poorest country in Africa?
The poorest country in the world is Somalia.
Somalia has over 70% of the population living in abject poverty. Political unrest and civil war have left the country’s fate hanging by a thread to the extent that it has become very difficult to revive the conditions of the African country.
There are also other countries with poor conditions with some of them gradually turning things up. Maybe with times, Somalia too might adopt a policy that will potentially give them a good balance.