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May : Why the Top 10 Most Prolific Economies in Africa Should Aim for Sustainable Development

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2 May, 2017

Why the Top 10 Most Prolific Economies in Africa Should Aim for Sustainable Development


Prolific economies


The continent of Africa is composed of 54 countries which together recorded an impressive economic growth in the past 15 years. Average Gross Domestic Product rose over 2% in the 80s and 90s and reached more than 5% in the period 2001-2014. Across the globe, Africa is the second fastest economy in the world after emerging/developing Asia.  However, despite significant strides in economic growth, the critical issue is to sustain these initiatives. Africa is largely dependent on its natural resources such as agriculture & forestry, oil & gas, minerals and wildlife.  For example, the top 10 economies rely on the agriculture/forestry sector which generates 75% of their total output. Without the proper conservation measures, sustainability of resources and economic gains is not guaranteed that will end poverty & hunger and promote equal income distribution.

1.      Nigeria - $481.1 billion

Nigeria is the biggest country in Africa with an estimated population of 173 million. It is also the top exporter of oil in Africa and is blessed with the largest natural reserves of gas in the continent. Growth in real GDP is estimated at 6.1% attributed to the robust performance of services and industries. The biggest challenges are adequate job creation, private sector development and education.

2.     Arab Republic of Egypt - $ 330.8 billion

With a GDP growth of 4.2%, Egypt is classified as a lower middle income country with a GNI per capita estimated at $3,340 (2014/2015 data).  Roughly 28% of the population still live below the poverty line. Significant improvements were achieved in human development in the last 3 decades in response to the requirements of the population.

3.     South Africa - $314.6 billion

South Africa is one of the powerhouses of Africa. Its peaceful political transition is a remarkable achievement. Real GDP growth has been modified, showing a lower forecast due to lower commodity prices, policy uncertainty and domestic problems. Key challenges include elimination of poverty, focused leadership and institutional building.

4.     Algeria - $166.8 billion

Despite numerous political upheavals affecting the country, its GDP growth (4.8%) remained positive. However, if strong and balanced economic growth is to be experienced, the economy must diversify and reduce its reliance on the oil/gas sector.

5.     Angola - $102.6 billion

Low prices of crude oil have an impact on the budget balances of the country. To sustain development, it must reduce its dependency on oil requiring economic diversification, infrastructure building, human development and improvement of governance and capacity building.

6.     Morocco - $100.6 billion

The country performed relatively well in 2015 experiencing a 4.5% growth in GDP while inflation is a modest 1.6%. Economic development and stability in the medium-term will hinge on its ability to purse good macroeconomic policies and implementation of structural reforms.

7.     Sudan - $97.16 billion

In 2015, Sudan's GDP growth was at 4.9% while its inflation rate peaked at 16.9%. It is plagued by internal conflicts which hinder economic and social development. Poverty is rife and Sudan is a highly-indebted country. It is dependent on oil neglecting other sectors or alternative sources of energy.  Addressing these problems is a priority in addition to solving unequal distribution of resources, promoting governance and creating a favourable environment for investment.

8.     Kenya - $63.40 billion

Significant structural and economic reforms undertaken by the country are responsible for its continued economic growth with GDP growth at 5.6% in 2015. This figure is expected to rise in the coming years. However, addressing issues such as climate change, governance and inequality could sustain its growth rates.

9.     Ethiopia - $61.54 billion

Ethiopia is the second most densely populated country in Africa with a population of 99.4 million.  It is also one of the poorest nations in the world with a per capita income of $590. Its economy experienced robust growth at 9.6% in 2015. Ethiopia's main challenge is to sustain this growth and address human development issues.

10.  Tanzania - $45.63 billion

Tanzania has made remarkable progress in implementing structural and economic reforms that helped the country achieve an impressive 7% GDP growth in 2015. The poverty rate has dropped, but not in absolute terms given its rapid population growth. The main development challenges facing the country are agricultural productivity, business sector development and social services delivery.

Written by: Jackie Edwards