The 10 richest countries in Africa by GDP

Oluwatosin Jegede

Africa, a continent of enormous economic diversity and richness, is the second largest and most populous after Asia. Encompassing 20% of the Earth’s land surface, it is home to over a billion individuals. This land is huge and rich, laden with resources like sugar, salt, diamonds, gold, copper, and more.

Such wealth made Africa the focal point of colonization, particularly during the late 19th century’s ‘Scramble for Africa,’ where European powers vied for control. This era’s legacy persists, contributing to the economic disparities we see today, with some of the world’s poorest countries residing in Africa. Yet, in all this lies wealth.

In this guide, we discuss the ten richest countries in Africa, evaluating them by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), revealing the diverse economic strength across the continent. These strengths shed light on Africa’s economic might and help understand the continent’s significant contribution to the global economy.

Africa’s richest countries by GDP

GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is a vital measure of a nation’s wealth. It calculates the total monetary value of all goods and services produced in a country over a year. This metric helps us understand the economic size and health of a nation. In this list, we explore the ten richest countries in Africa based on their GDP.

1. Nigeria

Gaining independence from Great Britain in 1960, Nigeria stands at the forefront with a GDP of $440.8 billion as of 2021, according to the World Bank. Nigeria is Known to have Africa’s largest market and is rich in natural resources like minerals, precious stones, and oil.

As one of Africa’s leading oil producers, the nation has recently diversified its economy, seeing growth in the tech sector and emerging as a potential hub for green energy.

2. South Africa

Post-apartheid South Africa, since 1994, has transformed significantly, impacting its economy significantly. In 2021, its GDP reached $419 billion. South Africa boasts the most advanced and diverse economy in Africa, leading the world in the production of platinum, manganese, chromium, and vanadium.

Its economy is segmented into primary sectors (including agriculture, fishing, and mining), secondary sectors (like manufacturing and construction), and tertiary sectors (comprising trade, transport, and services). Despite being among the richest countries in Africa by GDP, South Africa struggles with extreme wealth inequality, with the top 10% controlling over 80% of the wealth.

3. Egypt

Independent since 1922 from Great Britain, Egypt’s GDP was reported to be $404.1 billion in 2021. The Egyptian economy is anchored in agriculture, with key products like cotton and cereals alongside tourism, chemical exports, and manufacturing.

Strategically located, Egypt benefits from robust trade relationships with other African nations and the Middle East.

4. Algeria

Algeria, with a GDP of $163 billion in 2021, is one of the richest countries in Africa in Africa. After gaining independence from France in 1962, Algeria developed into a major market, primarily fueled by oil and natural gas exports.

Recognizing the limitations of fossil fuels, the country is now eyeing diversification, particularly in renewable energy, leveraging its favorable solar power potential.

5. Morocco

Morocco’s strategic location between Africa and Europe has bolstered its GDP to $142.9 billion in 2021. Tourism thrives here, supplemented by manufacturing, agriculture, and exports like wood, cotton, fruit, and phosphates.

Holding two-thirds of the world’s phosphate reserves, Morocco is also making strides in solar energy, aiming to become a leader in this field.

6. Ethiopia

Ethiopia, uniquely never colonized in Africa, recorded a GDP of $111.3 billion in 2021. Ethiopia’s strength lies in agriculture, a previously fast-growing economy with a growing agro-processing industry, textiles, and leather goods.

The country is also a significant producer of sugar and coffee, the latter claiming its origins in Ethiopia. The service sector is expanding, contributing further to the economy, making it one of the richest countries in Africa.

7. Kenya

Kenya, independent since 1963, achieved a GDP of $110.3 billion in 2021. As East Africa’s hub for economic, financial, and commercial activities, Kenya balances industrialization with a robust agricultural sector.

The country is rich in minerals like titanium and gold and is experiencing rapid growth in its tech industry. Kenya’s young population is a vital asset for future economic development.

8. Ghana

Ranking eighth, Ghana’s GDP stands at $77.59 billion. Known for its gold, Ghana also exports oil, gas, diamonds, and cocoa. Together with Côte d’Ivoire, it dominates the global cocoa bean market.

The services industry, including education, health, and ICT, is growing, contributing to Ghana’s reputation as one of the most stable and economically promising countries in West Africa.

9. Côte d’Ivoire

With a GDP of around $70 billion in 2021, Côte d’Ivoire has emerged as a stable economy since its independence in 1960.

Agriculture drives its economy, focusing on rubber, cashews, cocoa, cotton, and palm oil. As a leading cocoa producer globally, the country has a positive economic outlook, bolstered by effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

10. Tanzania

Due to its industrialization efforts, Tanzania’s GDP was $67.84 billion in 2021. The country’s growth is attributed to transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, renewable electricity, agriculture, and mining sectors.

Rich in various metals and minerals, Tanzania also boasts significant natural attractions, although the pandemic impacted tourism.

These ten countries represent Africa’s richest countries by GDP and highlight the continent’s huge economic potential and diversity. Each nation’s unique path to economic growth provides valuable insights into Africa’s growing economy.

Read also: The 10 countries with the most valuable natural resources worldwide

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