GDP per capita is one of the clearest measurements of a country’s economy since it provides an insight into how each country’s citizens live on average, showing the number of goods and services produced per person.
Due to the COVID–19 epidemic, Africa experienced its worst recession in more than 50 years in 2020, with its GDP falling by 2.1%. However, it is predicted to rise by 3.4% in 2021. East Africa appears to be the most stable region, owing to less reliance on primary commodities and better diversification. It grew by 5.3 percent in 2019 and is expected to expand by 0.7 percent in 2020. Real GDP growth is expected to be 3.0 percent in 2021 and 5.6 percent in 2022.
Southern Africa was the heaviest hit by the epidemic, with a 7.0 percent economic drop in 2020. It is expected to expand at a rate of 3.2 percent in 2021 and 2.4 percent in 2022.
West Africa’s GDP is expected to drop by 1.5 percent in 2020, which is less than the 4.3 percent decline predicted in June. However, because of more focused and less restrictive lockdowns, many West African countries sustained positive development in 2020.
This article has compiled a list of the top 20 African countries in terms of GDP per capita in 2021. The top 20 rankings of Africa’s Richest Countries are based on a report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
20. Cameroon (GDP Per Capita in US$: $1,657)
Cameroon has a population of approximately 25 million people and is a lower-middle-income country (2018). It shares borders with the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria, and is located along the Atlantic Ocean. The northwest and southwest border regions with Nigeria are Anglophone, while the rest of the country is Francophone. Cameroon does have wealth of natural resources, including oil and gas, mineral ores, and high-value timber species, as well as agricultural products including coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize, and cassava.
19. Mauritania (GDP Per Capita in US$: $1,782)
Mauritania is largely a desert country, with vast expanses of grazing pasture and only 0.5 percent arable land. According to the National Statistics Office, Mauritania has a population of approximately 4 million (2018) and a population density of 3.9 persons per square kilometer, ranking it as Africa’s fourth-least densely populated country. By 2020, the country’s urban population will outnumber rural residents, with 52.8 percent of the population residing in cities, up from 48.3 percent in 2013.
18. Kenya (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,122)
Over the last decade, Kenya has implemented important political and economic changes that have contributed to sustained economic growth, social progress, and political stability benefits. Kenya’s economic growth averaged 5.7 percent from 2015 to 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A stable macroeconomic framework, good investor confidence, and a resilient services sector have all contributed to the economy’s growth.
17. Angola (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,130)
Despite great progress in macroeconomic stability and structural reforms, Angola continues to bear the consequences of decreasing oil prices and production levels. The oil sector accounts for one-third of GDP and more than 90% of exports, and macroeconomic stability has been restored and sustained as a result of a more flexible exchange rate system, restrictive monetary policy, and fiscal austerity. These reforms are already yielding positive benefits, as Angola re-entered the Eurobond market for $3 billion, and the IMF authorized the second assessment of the EFF program in December 2019.
16. Nigeria (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,209)
Nigeria, a prominent regional power in West Africa, accounts for almost half of the region’s population, with approximately 202 million people and one of the world’s largest young populations. With vast natural resources, it is Africa’s top oil exporter and boasts the continent’s largest natural gas reserves. Prior to the 2016 recession, Nigeria’s economy was expanding rapidly at a rate of 6.3 percent.
Prior to COVID-19, the economy was increasing at a rate of 2.2 percent. In 2014, inflation was in the single digits, compared to almost 12% in 2019. In 2019, the general government budget deficit was 4.4 percent of GDP, up from 1.8 percent in 2014.
Unemployment and underemployment are predicted to rise, impacting impoverished households and increasing the population’s vulnerability to poverty. Only agriculture is predicted to contribute favorably to growth in 2020.
15. Republic of the Congo (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,271)
Following a major economic crisis that afflicted the country beginning in mid-2014 as a result of a drop in oil prices, the Congolese economy resumed an upward trend in 2018, with real GDP growth expected to reach 1.6 percent after two years of negative growth.
Growth was driven by increased oil production as well as good market conditions, with oil prices remaining stable in late 2018 and demand from partner emerging countries resuming. Nonetheless, the non-oil sector continues to contract, with activity in construction and public works, transportation, and telecommunications contracting by 5.5 percent.
14. Ghana (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,300)
Ghana’s GDP declined by 3.2 and 1. percent in the second and third quarters of 2020, respectively, putting the country into recession for the first time in 38 years. However, a moderate 1.1 percent growth is forecast for the full year of 2020, thanks to a robust 4.9 percent growth in the first quarter of 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis began. The 1.1 percent GDP growth in 2020 represents a significant drop from pre-COVID-19 levels.
With the currency rate relatively stable and the central bank gradually returning to a tighter monetary policy stance, inflation is likely to decrease to the central bank’s target range. Over the longer term, fiscal and current account balances are likely to improve slowly, owing mostly to unfavorable external variables and a sluggish return to normalcy in domestic revenue mobilization.
13. Côte d’Ivoire (GDP Per Capita in US$: $2,571)
Since 2012, Côte d’Ivoire has seen bright, robust, and consistent economic growth, but slowed down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 issue. Nonetheless, the country remains the economic heart of Francophone West Africa and wields tremendous power in the area.
The rating of Côte d’Ivoire on the World Bank’s human capital index (0.38) improved somewhat in 2020 compared to 2019. Poverty declined substantially from 46.3 percent in 2015 to 39.4 percent in 2020, however, this was limited to urban regions, while rural poverty increased by 2.4 percent during the same period.
12. Djibouti (GDP Per Capita in US$: $3,275)
Djibouti’s economy fared well through the first impact of the pandemic, avoiding a downturn. In 2020, output increased by 0.5 percent, owing to strong free zone re-exports and exports of transportation, logistics, and telecommunication services to and from Ethiopia in the second half of the year.
Nonetheless, extreme poverty grew marginally to 14.7% in 2020. While Djibouti’s growth prospects are favorable, they are heavily dependent on Ethiopia’s political and economic conditions. Food security in Djibouti is jeopardized due to high global food costs.
11. Tunisia (GDP Per Capita in US$: $3,380)
As the year 2020 came to a close, the extent of the pandemic’s impact on the Tunisian economy became clear. Tunisia has witnessed a steeper decrease in economic growth than most of its regional neighbors, owing to weak growth and rising debt levels when the crisis began.
Poverty and vulnerability are likely to increase, reversing a recent trend in poverty reduction. Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than US$1.90 per day, stayed below 1% in Tunisia; however, poverty defined as living on more than US$3.20 per day was reported to have climbed from 2.9 to 3.7 percent.
10. Morocco (GDP Per Capita in US$: $3,409)
On the economic front, the COVID-19 shock has pushed Morocco into its first recession since 1995. Economic output decreased by 15.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, owing mostly to the lockdown and severe decrease in exports caused by the pandemic’s disruption of global value chains, as well as the collapse of tourism receipts.
The pandemic’s shock to supply and demand has been exacerbated by a drop in agricultural production as a result of a severe drought. Although activity increased in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, preliminary official estimates show that Morocco’s real GDP declined by 7% in 2020, raising unemployment from 9.2% to 11.9 percent.
9. Algeria (GDP Per Capita in US$: $3,449)
The pandemic-caused economic catastrophe comes after five years of slowing GDP growth in Algeria (2015-2019), owing to a diminishing hydrocarbon sector, a convoluted and public-led growth model, and a private sector striving to become the new engine of economic growth.
The hydrocarbon industry, which contributed 20% of GDP, 41% of fiscal revenues, and 94% of export earnings in 2019, is facing structural deterioration.
8. Egypt (GDP Per Capita in US$: $3,606)
Egypt’s recent macroeconomic and structural reforms have stabilized the economy, allowing it to enter the global COVID-19 crisis with improved fiscal and external balances. However, the pandemic’s negative consequences have now undercut this recent progress, shedding attention on long-standing issues.
These include slow private sector activity and job creation, particularly in the formal sector, underperforming non-oil exports and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), an elevated government debt-to-GDP ratio (despite significant reductions in recent years), lower-than-potential revenue mobilization, and an unfavorable budget structure with limited allocations to key sectors such as health and education.
7. Namibia (GDP Per Capita in US$: $4,412)
Namibia is a small country of roughly 2.5 million inhabitants that borders South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Angola on the South Atlantic. It is Sub-Saharan Africa’s driest country and is rich in mineral resources such as diamonds and uranium.
Namibia is heavily reliant on mineral extraction investments and government spending, and has suffered as a result of dropping commodity prices, slow growth in important trade partners (Angola and South Africa), and tight fiscal policy as a result of the government’s efforts to rebalance public finances.
6. Libya (GDP Per Capita in US$: $4,733)
Libya entered 2021 as a divided country seeking recovery and healing. With the conflict intensifying and oil refineries and oilfields being blocked, the economy recorded one of the poorest performances in recent history for the majority of 2020.
However, if the current reconciliation continues, Libya will be able to rebound significantly from its 2020 dip in the coming year. With significant maintenance issues still unresolved, oil production is expected to reach 1.1 million barrels per day (MBD) in 2021. This would result in a rise in real GDP growth to 67 percent in 2021. In terms of GDP, the economy would still be 23% smaller than it was in 2010, the year before the conflict began.
5. South Africa (GDP Per Capita in US$: $5,236)
South Africa has made significant strides to improve the well-being of its population since the country’s democratic transition in the mid-1990s, but growth has stalled in the recent decade. Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of the population living in poverty declined from 68 percent to 56 percent, but has subsequently trended slightly upwards to 57 percent in 2015 and is expected to reach 60 percent in 2020.
Structural difficulties and slow growth have hampered efforts in poverty reduction, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 epidemic. Rising unemployment, which hit an all-time high of 32.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, is significantly limiting improvements in household welfare. Youths aged 15 to 24 have the greatest unemployment rate, at roughly 63 percent.
4. Botswana (GDP Per Capita in US$: $7,036)
Botswana is in the heart of Southern Africa, between South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. When it gained independence in 1966, it was one of the world’s poorest countries, but it quickly became one of the world’s developments successes.
Significant mineral (diamond) wealth, good governance, prudent economic management, and a relatively small population of slightly more than two million people have propelled it to the upper-middle-income bracket, with a transformation agenda aimed at transforming it into a high-income country by 2036.
While the diamond industry is expected to revive in 2021, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting.
3. Gabon (GDP Per Capita in US$: $7,785)
Gabon is a country with an upper-middle-income. It is Africa’s fifth-largest oil producer and has experienced considerable economic growth over the last decade, owing to its oil and manganese output. Over the last five years, the oil sector has averaged 80 percent of exports, 45 percent of GDP, and 60 percent of fiscal revenue.
However, as the country’s oil supplies decrease, the Gabonese administration has decided to diversify the country’s economy.
This expected growth will be affected by the COVID-19 situation and a further drop in oil prices. A significant decline in domestic revenue mobilization, exports, and foreign direct investment will result in a significant fiscal deficit.
2. Equatorial Guinea (GDP Per Capita in US$: $8,000)
In the last decade, it has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. Equatorial Guinea, behind Nigeria and Angola, became the third-largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa with the discovery of huge oil reserves in the 1990s. Significant gas reserves have also lately been identified.
However, the country’s macroeconomic and budgetary situation has deteriorated as a result of the reduction in oil prices.
1. Seychelles (GDP Per Capita in US$: $12,648)
COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had a devastating economic and social impact on the Seychellois economy. Economic growth in Seychelles fell dramatically in 2020, from 3.9 percent in 2019 to -13.5 percent in 2020, due to severe disruptions in economic activity, including decreased tourism activities, which fell by more than 60 percent.
Furthermore, the budget deficit increased to 22.6 percent of GDP in 2020 due to decreased revenues and higher COVID-19-related spending, and it is predicted to be 15.3 percent in 2021. The recovery is predicted to begin gradually in 2021, fueled by the revival of tourism and other capital flows. If the economic shock goes uncontrolled, the poor are projected to pay a larger share of the burden.