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The 10 Richest Countries in Sub Saharan Africa

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The 10 Richest Countries in Sub Saharan Africa

Africa is a continent endowed with rich and diverse natural resources. Its growth is projected to pick up to 3.1% in 2018 according to World Bank. The growth rate will be similar or higher across the Sub Sahara Africa. This upswing reflects rising oil and metals production, encouraged by higher commodity prices, improving agricultural conditions, and increasing domestic demand.

Despite tighter global financing conditions and weaker-than-expected commodity prices, heightened conflicts delayed fiscal adjustment, and weak implementation of structural reforms, growth is expected to firm as the recovery strengthens in Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa.

But which are the richest countries in Sub Sahara Africa? The ranking is based on the International Monetary Fund’s recent data on GDP per capita for each country. The data also takes into the consideration the purchasing power parity, which compares the currencies of countries in relation to the cost of goods and is used to weigh a country’s economy in relation to others.

These are the richest countries in Sub Sahara Africa per capita:


10. Angola (US$ 6,850)

Located in the southern part of Africa, Angola is a vast mineral and oil-rich country. With a population of over 25 million people, it has a GDP per capita of US$ 6,850. The country was adversely affected by the oil price shock that started in mid-2014 has substantially reduced fiscal revenue and exports, with growth coming to a halt and inflation accelerating sharply. According to IMF, their official currency, Kwanza has been devalued against the U.S. dollar by over 40 percent since September 2014, with international reserves being used to smooth the depreciation. But despite this, Angola is the fastest-growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world.

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9. Cabo Verde (US$ 7,316)

Port city of Mindelo, Cabo Verde

Also known as Cape Verde, is an island nation spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean with a population of just over 500,000. It is one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa with GDP per capita of US$ 7,316 as at 2018. Despite lacking natural resources, its economy is mostly service oriented with interests in tourism and foreign investments and has made significant progress over the last few decades in economic and social development. The government has embarked on an ambitious reform program to promote the development of the private sector and rein in the high public debt, including by restructuring state-owned enterprises.


8. Swaziland (US$ 9,894)

The small landlocked Southern Africa country is home to over 1.3 million people with a GDP per capita of US$ 9,894. Swaziland has experienced a period of macroeconomic stability over the years but faces formidable policy challenges and structural issues. Public debt is rising, domestic arrears accumulating, and reserve coverage is below adequate levels.


7. Namibia (US$11,613)

The City if Windhoek

The southern African country has a population of over 2.6 million with a GDP per capita of US$11,613 making it one of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa with a high purchasing power parity. It has a diversified economy consisting of mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism leading it to experience periods of exceptional growth and economic stability. Nevertheless, this has been overshadowed by rising public debt, unacceptably high unemployment and income inequality and low reserve coverage according to the IMF.


6. South Africa (US$13,840)

Cape Town

Described as the most advanced democracy and the 2nd largest economy after Nigeria in Africa, has a GDP per capita of US$13,840 making it the 6th richest country in Sub Saharan Africa. Its economic growth has been dented widespread unemployment and longstanding inequalities. Public debate is increasingly questioning whether the prevailing economic policy paradigm can deliver results for all citizens according to IMF. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs and maintains significant regional influence.


5. Botswana (US$18,843)

The City of Gaberone

Botswana’s economic performance over the past two decades has been impressive, allowing the country to move quickly from low to upper-middle income status. With a population of just over 2 million, Botswana has a GDP per capita of US$18,843 making it the 5th richest country in Sub Saharan Africa.


4. Gabon (US$19,952)

The capital of Gabon, Libreville

Petroleum and foreign private investment in areas of construction, transport, commerce, and services have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub Saharan Africa with a GDP per capita of US$19,952 as at 2018. With a population of around 2 million, the economy is heavily dependent on oil which has largely affected by the global decline of oil prices; but according to the IMF, the ongoing, large-scale investments in the agricultural sector, especially in cash crops such as palm oil and rubber, are expected to accelerate significantly in 2018 and could lift growth to around 5 percent in the medium term.

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3. Mauritius (US$22,910)

Port Louis, Capital City Mauritius

This is the 3rd richest country in Sub Saharan Africa with a GDP per capita of approximately US$22,910 as at 2018. Mauritius is seeking to become a high-income economy within the next ten years with the growth strategy being anchored around an ambitious public investment program and improvements in the business climate. However, IMF notes that fiscal space is limited, and competitiveness bottlenecks are limiting the gains from trade.


2. Seychelles (US$ 30,084)

Seychelles Parliament Building in the Capital City, Victoria – Credit/CNN

The 115 island economy has a population of barely 100,000 making it the least populated country in Africa. It is the second richest country in Sub Saharan Africa with a GDP per capita of US$ 30,084. Seychelles has made noticeable progress toward economic stability incorporating market-based diversified.  Economic growth reached 4.5 percent, reflecting increased tourist arrivals, stronger output in the fishing industry, and expanding credit to the private sector. 


1. Equatorial Guinea (US$32,855)

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

This tiny Republic located in the central part of Africa is the third largest producer of oil in Sub Saharan Africa. This oil-dependent country with a population of over 1.2 million with an approximately a GDP per capita of US$32,855 according to the IMF making it the richest country in Africa. And this has been despite its GDP growth being weak and economic performance deteriorating in the wake of declining oil prices and a decline in the hydrocarbon sector.


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