If life was a thing money could buy, these 25 poorest countries in Africa would be either dead or on life support.
Poor leadership, massive embezzlement and diversion of public funds, civil wars, international interference, years of unrest and poor economic and development policies are the most common causes of the poverty in these African countries.
These countries are ranked by GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power. World Bank Data from 2014 were used to rank the poorest countries in Africa. The GDP per capita is calculated by dividing the gross domestic product by midyear population. GDP is the sum total of value added by all residents in the economy, product taxes are added and subsidies are subtracted.
Chad – GDP Per Capita: 1,053.8 USD
85% of Chad’s population depends on agriculture and livestock as their means of survival. Its economy still suffers from political crisis, lack of infrastructure and geographic remoteness. Therefore, the government is seeking for further financial aid from organizations such as African Development Bank to improve their agriculture and livestock facilities.
Tanzania – GDP Per Capita: 998.1 USD
Even though Tanzania is the second largest economy among the East African Countries, its heavy dependence on agriculture as its main source of income makes Tanzania an economically unstable country. Widespread poverty and employment are Tanzania’s greatest economic woes. In order to reduce this, the country is transforming its policy from a command economy to a market economy.
Lesotho – GDP Per Capita: 995.5 USD
Lesotho’s economy is dependent on farming, livestock, mining and worker’s remittances. The country suffers from employment issues because majority of its workers are females since males seek for foreign employment to earn a better income. Thus, the government is starting to implement lucrative domestic employment programs to prevent brain drain.
Zimbabwe – GDP Per Capita: 935.9 USD
The country suffers from a severe unemployment rate of 80% due to its involvement in a war with Congo from 1998-2002. Hyperinflation is also a common economic threat in Zimbabwe. In 2009, Zimbabwe scrapped its local currency and replaced it with US Dollar and South African Rand, this helped put an end to end hyperinflation but the manufacturing sector lost its competitiveness as it is now cheaper to import everything.
Comoros – GDP Per Capita: 860.8 USD
The country’s main source of income is through agriculture, fishing and hunting. High unemployment, low educational levels and heavy dependence on foreign grants have made the economy a backward one. Comoros’s government is trying various strategies such as reduction in population growth, diversifying exports and upgrading education and training in order to strengthen the economy.
Benin – GDP Per Capita: 825.2
Its dependency on subsistence agriculture and cotton makes Benin an economically underdeveloped country. Although production rates are high, the profits are useless since most companies are foreign-owned and controlled. Therefore, Benin has invested on several local products such as cocoa, peanuts and pineapples to secure profits.
Sierra Leone – GDP Per Capita: 788.4 USD
Even though two-thirds of the population is employed in the agriculture sector, the government support for this sector is quite low. Its overdependence on mineral exploitation is major reasons for its regressive economy. Since the government believes that the nation’s ‘diamonds and gold’ are sufficient motivators for foreign investment, the country has not been developing or concentrating on other industries.
Mali – GDP Per Capita: 765.7 USD
The local population largely relies on agriculture as their means of survival. But since Mali is a primary recipient of financial aid from multilateral organizations, including The World Bank, it is deep in debt. Currently, authorities are developing the mining and fishing industry of Bali to ensure future financial security.
Burkina Faso – GDP Per Capita: 720.0 USD
80% of the country’s economy is reliant on agriculture as their main source of income. Due to highly variable rainfall and use of primitive tools, their output has been very low over the years. Furthermore, high population density, lack of resources and fragile soil are contributing factors towards Burkina Faso’s backward economy. Despite the country’s attempt to encourage private investment, maintain microeconomic progress and reduce trade deficit; it is still subjected to extreme poverty.
Uganda – GDP Per Capita: 677.4 USD
Even though Uganda possesses vast natural resources, ample fertile land and sufficient rainfall, its economy is still indigent. This is mainly due to political instability and unorganized economic management. So, industrialists are trying to privatize industries in Uganda to make better use of its resources.
Rwanda – GDP Per Capita: 652.1 USD
90% of the Rwandan population engages in agriculture to survive. Since the country is largely populated and is landlocked, access to natural resources is very low. Moreover, the noncompetitive industrial sector has failed to contribute toward its GDP in the past decades. Rwanda is currently managing its economy through the export of coffee and tea.
Togo – GDP Per Capita: 646.1 USD
The main economic activity of Togo is subsistence agriculture. Therefore, insufficient rainfalls and disastrous harvests very easily damage Togo’s GDP. One of its main strength is that it has a strong labor force. Investments have been made on cotton cultivation as an alternative source of income in case of an emergency.
Mozambique – GDP Per Capita: 619 USD
Subsistence agriculture continues to be the strongest source of income. Inflation and dependence on foreign financial assistance disrupt a steady growth in the economy. But on the other hand, the government has started several macroeconomic reforms including the latest investment in aluminum smelting.
Eritrea – GDP Per Capita: 590.2 USD
The country’s income generation is largely facilitated by exporting minerals such as copper, granite, gold and marble. Although it has a fast growing economy, 30% of the country’s GDP is through worker remittances from foreign countries. Therefore, the government is trying to increase domestic employment to reduce indirect foreign influence.
Guinea-Bissau – GDP Per Capita: 585.6 USD
Situated in Western Africa, Guinea-Bissau is named as one of the poorest countries in the world. Its main source of income is through agriculture and fishing. Frequent revolts and protests with the country often result economic crisis due to misappropriation of property. Over the recent years, the economy has started to flourish due to a steady increment in cashew crops and subsequent peanut exports.
Ethiopia – GDP Per Capita: 567.8 USD
Agriculture is the main industry and way of income accounting for 47% of Ethiopia’s GDP. A major drawback of the Ethiopian economy is its low employment rates. This is mainly due to the fact that half of its population consists of minors. The government has been privatizing industries and properties in order to ensure a steady source of income in the future.
Democratic Republic of the Congo – GDP Per Capita: 475.2 USD
A major share of the state’s revenue is generated through hunting, agriculture and forestry. The country also has an impressive petroleum industry which is used for both domestic and export purposes. But it also suffers from budgeting difficulties as well as excessive manpower which had resulted in unemployment. The current government is using modern technology to convert natural gas to electricity which offers great energy efficiency.
Liberia – GDP Per Capita: 461.0 USD
The country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and exports of raw materials such as iron ore and rubber. The major reason for the poverty in Liberia is the economic consequences of the Liberian Civil War which resulted in loss of capital, brain drain and damaged infrastructure. Currently, the government is trying to develop the agriculture with the support of modern technology since resources and climate favor the industry.
Madagascar – GDP Per Capita: 449.4 USD
It has a stable income through its agriculture and mining industries. Availability of natural resources including crops and minerals has encouraged the exports industry as well. Despite these successes, the reason for Madagascar’s indigent economy is the continuous political crisis which has deterred foreign investments. Thus, the tourism industry of Madagascar currently acts as their back-up revenue generator.
Niger – GDP Per Capita: 440.7 USD
Niger’s economy is based on domestic production and foreign exports. It has a strong agricultural industry and wealth of minerals which support the economy. But on a negative note, a large part of its productions are exported to equally underdeveloped countries in Africa. In the recent past, the government has adopted lenient privatization policies to stabilize the state’s economy.
Gambia – GDP Per Capita: 422.8 USD
75% Gambia’s economy relies on livestock. The country lacks minerals, natural resources and agricultural land to enforce better production. Furthermore, the economy also runs largely due to the help of international funds. Small businesses such as peanut production and fishing are being encouraged to help set the country towards a self-sufficient economy.
Central African Republic – GDP Per Capita: 378.6 USD
War torn Central African republic’s economy has been undermined by decades of political instability. Potentially profitable timber and diamond industries are seriously undermined by corruption. Central African republic is one of Africa’s most unstable country, it has been engrossed in various unrest since independence, progress made towards stabilizing the country was made between 2008 and 2012, but all that was lost when the Seleka rebel alliance ousted President Francois Bozize in March 2013.
Burundi – GDP Per Capita: 295.1 USD
Agriculture has been Burundi’s main form of survival since it accounts for 54% of its GDP and 70% of its labor force. The ongoing civil war, lack of resources, soil erosion and the underdeveloped manufacturing sector are primary reasons for its stagnant economy. In order to ensure to financial security in the future, the government of Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, is working on increasing self-sufficiency and access foreign aid.
Malawi – GDP Per Capita: 253.0 USD
Since 90% of Malawians live in rural areas, their livelihood is based on the agriculture industry. Rapid growth of HIV/AIDS, deforestation and poor educational and health facilities require much government influence in terms of financial assistance. Life in Malawi is not pretty at the moment, life expectancy age is around 50 years of age. Going forward, Malawi is making considerable efforts to boost its low export earnings, it is looking to exploit its uranium reserves and explore Lake Malawi for oil and gas.
Somalia – GDP Per Capita: 128.1 USD
Named as a least developed country by the United Nations, Somalia is not only the poorest country in Africa, it is the poorest nation in the world. Somalia’s economy is based on livestock, remittance and telecommunications. The ongoing civil war that started in 1986 is one of the main reasons for economic underdevelopment since most resources are used by the armies.