The ten richest countries by GDP on the African continent

05 January 2018 4 min. read
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As the African economy emerges out of a slowdown, management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has released a list of the ten richest countries on the continent, based on respective GDPs. Nigeria and South Africa top the list somewhat predictably, while oil-rich Northern Africa has substantial representation as well.

In years to come, the African continent is expected to play a major role in the global economy. The continent cumulatively has the youngest population in the world, most of which is set to enter the working age in the near future. This sizeable workforce, combined with rapidly increasing digital maturity and a uniquely diverse trade character, has the potential to concretely shape the international economy.

However, while it has a strong regional character, it is important not to club the continent under a single entity. The diversity in Africa extends beyond culture and trade to key factors such as richness of resources, historical development, and international relations. As a result, economic growth on the continent is driven by a handful of strong economies, while the rest of the continent continues to lag behind, struggling with issues of basic infrastructure

In an attempt to identify the key drivers of regional growth, global management consultancy McKinsey & Company has released a list of the ten largest countries by GDP on the continent.

Top ten economies

In tenth place is Tunisia, located in the north of Africa. The country’s GDP of $49.1 billion is generated primarily through oil revenues. Situated on the coast of the Medterranean, the country also benefits strongly from tourism revenues. In ninth place, also from the oil-rich Northern Africa region is Libya. The country has the largest oil reserve in Africa, which accounts for 80% of its $49.3 billion GDP.

Top 10 largest economies of Africa

In eighth place on the list, from the West, is Angola, with a GDP of $49.9 billion. Oil accounts for 50% of the country’s revenues, while other important sources are rich reserves of diamonds and other minerals. Agriculture is expected to become a key driver for the economy in years to come, as the country continues to recover from internal strife in recent decades.

Kenya places seventh on the list with a GDP of $53.4 billion, and represents the first economy that is not built around the oil sector. The country is a trade hub for central and eastern Africa, earning from the export of coffee, tea, and fish among other major goods. Meanwhile, despite losing 80% of its oil to South Sudan after the split, Sudan makes the number six spot on the list, with a strong GDP of $112.6 billion, driven by its ports and oil refineries.

With a GDP of slightly more than $112.6 billion, Morocco in North Africa makes number five on the list, driven by mining and manufacturing, and supplemented by a booming tourism sector. Also in the north, Algeria places in fourth with a GDP more than twice as big at $227.8 billion. Oil is abundant in the country, and the economy is heavily reliant on it.

Deriving from petroleum and natural gas exports on the Suez Canal, with some help from agriculture, Egypt places third on the list with a GDP of $284.9 billion. Meanwhile, with a healthy mix of mining, manufacturing, tourism and finance, South Africa places second on the list with a GDP of $341.2 billion.

Rounding the list off, in top spot, is the well-populated country of Nigeria. The sizeable GDP of $594.3 billion is driven by infrastructure, transport, finance, and tourism. The large population is primarily in the working age, digitally aware, and has tremendous financial potential.