Africa is one of the largest continents in the world and the home to 54 sovereign states. Although regarded as the poorest continent, there are some progressing economies in Africa which are quite wealthy.
This list reflects the GDP per capita in each country. This is the gross domestic product, or total market value of goods and services produced by the national economy during the last year, in regards to each person in the country.
We look at the 10 Poorest Countries in Africa as of 2016, ranked by GDP per capita:
10.) Mali – GDP per capita: $1,136
Mali is the tenth poorest country in Africa. Mali’s poverty, malnutrition, inadequate hygiene and sanitation are the biggest health challenges. Over 50% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
9.) Madagascar – GDP per capita: $972.07
The Madagascan economy relies heavily upon tourism, agriculture and the extractive industries. In 2011, agriculture accounted for 29% of the country’s GDP; with manufacturing taking up a further 15%. Tourism in the country has slowed in recent years however with a 50% drop in 2009 compared to the previous year. There are worrying signs in Madagascar though, with 69% of the population living below the national poverty line.
Hard working poor malagasy man
8.) Malawi – GDP per capita: $893.84
As of 2004, 54% of Malawians lived under the poverty line on less than $1 a day. This was tempered by the fact that in December 2000 the IMF and a number of individual donors stopped distributing aid within the region due to concerns over corruption. Malawi has since however begun receiving aid again from the IMF’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries programme; as well as through the Millennium Challenge Corporation from the United States. Agriculture and services make up a huge chunk of GDP, accounting for 35% and 46% respectively. Another issue faced by the country is a shortage of foreign exchange which led to Malawi being unable to pay for some imports. This was due to investment falling by 23% in 2009.
Poverty in Malawi
7.) Niger – GDP per capita: $853.43
The economy of Niger is not helped by the fact that 80% of the country’s land mass is taken up the Sahara Desert. The country has also suffered greatly from political instability and an inequality deeply entrenched into Niger society. After electing a new government in 2000 the country was forced to accept enhanced debt relief from the International Monetary Fund under their Highly Indebted Poor Countries programme. This was due to the fact the Niger treasury was quite literally empty.
Primary school in Niger
6.) Central African Republic – GDP per capita: $827.93
Central African Republic has significant mineral reserves, including; gold, diamonds, uranium and crude oil. Of these, diamonds account for up to 55% of the country’s export revenues. The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report ranked Central African Republic in the bottom four nations of its Human Development Index. Whilst the country has seen a minor decrease in those living on less than $1 a day to 62% they would need to half that in the next year to reach the goal set out by the UNDP.
5.) Eritrea – GDP per capita: $792.13
Eritrea’s control of the sea route through the Suez Canal saw the Italians colonize the country in 1869 almost immediately after the route had been established. During the Second World War, Eritrea was conquered again this time by the British in 1941. Gross Domestic Product growth in the country has been consistently low, averaging 1.2 percent throughout the last decade and a high of 2 percent.
4.) Liberia – GDP per capita: $716.04
Liberia was one of only a few countries in Africa not colonized by Europeans, instead being founded by freed slaves from America. The slaves who founded the country took their inspiration from the federal model of government used in the United States of America. After a coup in 1980 led to the removal of the president, Liberia was involved in a destabilizing civil war which raged on seeing hundreds of thousands killed before a 2003 peace deal. This led to a democratic election in 2005 and a period of stability. The country is still feeling the hangover of civil war however with approximately 85% of the population living on less than $1 a day.
Slum in Monrovia, Liberia
3.) Burundi – GDP per capita: $648.58
Burundi is another country almost constantly in a state of tribal and civil war. This coupled with; a poor legal system, economy and education system, and no ports, means the country has never been able to create a stable GDP. A staggering 93% of Burundi’s exports revenues come from selling coffee. Meanwhile, 80% of Burundians live in poverty; whilst 57% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
2.) Zimbabwe – GDP per capita: $589.46
Not only is Zimbabwe one of the poorest countries in the world; but it has the lowest life expectancy in the world with men living until thirty-seven and women just thirty-four. This owes in part to the fact that 20.1% of the population suffer from HIV/AIDS. Whilst Zimbabwe is struggling to deal with its health issues, the government issued a one hundred trillion dollar bill in January 2009 to try and ease the economic situation.
1) Democratic Republic of Congo – GDP per capita: $394.25
Democratic Republic of Congo was known as Zaire until 1997, and became the poorest country in the world as recently as 2010. The country was ravaged by the Second Congo War which began in 1998. Over seven foreign armies were involved in the conflict over the time it took place, with 5.4 million people losing their lives including civilians. An interesting fact relating to the Democratic Republic of Congo is that it is the largest country speaking French in the world with a population of seventy-one million. That’s six million more than France.