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Africa’s Ten Richest Countries in 2007

Last Updated: 1/17/2010 1:27:04 PM

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Economic fortunes of African countries have improved with sustained growth experienced on the continent, exceeding that of most the developed countries. Hopefully this has led to an improved standard of living and wealth creation in these countries. ClickAfrique looks at the ten wealthiest in Africa in 2007.....

GDP per capita is the most often used indicator for determining the wealth of a nation
GDP per capita is the most often used indicator for determining the wealth of a nation

GDP per capita is often used as a gauge to determine the wealth of citizens in an economy, the rationale being that all the citizens would benefit from their nation’s economy. However the drawback to this method, as would demonstrated by the entrants on the list, is that firstly, it does not take into account the distribution of wealth within the country. Large oil producers like Nigeria earn a lot from the sale of oil but the proceeds from the sale do not necessarily trickle down to the man on the street but rather stay in the hands of a few individuals.

Secondly, the it is a poor indicator of the standard of living, for instance, countries like Equatorial Guinea have a high GDP per capita but its most of it people live in abject poverty.

However those in favour of using GDP per capita, argue while it does not measure the standard of living in a country, it is a good proxy for it. The reason being that as the GDP per capita in a country improves, so does that standard of living. For the same reason, it is also a good proxy for labour productivity. As the productivity of the workers increases, employers must compete for them by paying higher wages. Conversely, if productivity is low, then wages must be low or the businesses will not be able to make a profit.

With a decade of growth of 5.4%, and for the first time in over three decades, a large number of African countries have begun to show sustained economic growth at rates that are similar to the rest of the developing world, and exceed that of most of the developed countries. Keeping a track of the GDP per capita in these countries would hopefully show that the standard of living in them has also improved.

With all these in mind, ClickAfrique lists the top ten wealthiest countries in Africa below:

1. Equatorial Guinea

GDP per capita: $ 44,100 Global Rank: 12
The discovery and exploitation of large oil reserves have contributed to dramatic economic growth in recent years and with a population of just over 600, 000 this has pushed the country’s GDP per capita into being one of the highest in the world. However the distribution of wealth in this country is poor as government officials and their family members own most businesses.

2. Seychelles

GDP per capita: $ 18,400 Global Rank: 65
Economic growth in this Indian Ocean archipelago, with a population of 82,247, has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. The Seychelles rupee was allowed to depreciate in 2006 after being overvalued for years and fell by 10% in the first 9 months of 2007.

3. Botswana

GDP per capita: $ 14,700 Global Rank: 74
Since its independence in 1966, Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates and through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country. On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains.

4. Gabon

GDP per capita: $ 13,800 Global Rank: 79
A large proportion of the population of Gabon remains poor despite the country enjoying a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. The oil sector accounts for 50% of GDP and the rebound of oil prices since 1999 have helped growth, but drops in production have hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains, and will continue to temper the gains for most of this decade.

5. Libya

GDP per capita: $ 13,100 Global Rank: 81
The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, and its substantial revenues coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food. Libya's primary agricultural water source remains the Great Manmade River Project, but significant resources are being invested in desalinization research to meet growing water demands.

6. Mauritius

GDP per capita: $ 11,900 Global Rank: 87
Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes with equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure. Recent poor weather, declining sugar prices, and declining textile and apparel production, have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

7. South Africa

GDP per capita: $ 10,600 Global Rank: 93
South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market and has benefitted economically from macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom in the last few years. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth. At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating "load-shedding" cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation.

8. Algeria

GDP per capita: $ 8,100 Global Rank: 108
Sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped improve Algeria's financial and macroeconomic indicators and has yielded a large cash reserve but the country is still hampered by large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants.

9. Tunisia

GDP per capita: $ 7,500 Global Rank: 115
Progressive social policies also have helped raise living conditions in Tunisia relative to the region. The country has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors and the economic growth rate has average 5% in the last ten years. However, Tunisia will need to reach even higher growth levels to create sufficient employment opportunities for an already large number of unemployed as well as the growing population of university graduates.

10. Cape Verde

GDP per capita: $ 7,000 Global Rank: 118
Cape Verde has one of Africa's most stable democratic governments with an economy that is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for about three-fourths of GDP. Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its domestic one due to repeated droughts during the second half of the 20th century which caused significant hardship and prompted heavy emigration. 70% of the domestic population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. About 82% of food must be imported.


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Comment By: Emyk17

The information in this story is useful, however, no sources are attributed. I noticed that the information for South Africa is almost completely copy and pasted from the United States, Central Intelligence Agency's The World Factbook. Please post attribution and avoid plagiarism in the future.

Posted On: Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:50 PM

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