The distribution of wealth around the world is often the source of heated discussion and debate throughout the internet. Quantitatively, the 62 richest people in the world are actually wealthier than half of the world’s population. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and current richest man in the world, alone is almost as rich as the country of Sri Lanka, with his $79.2 billion net worth almost matching Sri Lanka’s GDP of $79.5 billion.
When it comes to thinking of the encapsulation of a wealthy nation, people will typically name a few common examples. The United States of America, China, Singapore, Australia, these are only a few examples of countries that might be named, and rightfully so. Typically however, Africa would not be a part of one of these lists. In fact, most of the poorest nations in the world are African ones, leading Africa as a while to usually be associated with a lack of wealth entirely. Regardless, it is important to note that this really isn’t the case for all African countries. There are actually a few African nations that possess a rather commendable Gross Domestic Product (GDP), each for their own different reasons. To give you further insight on the matter, just in case you were wondering, here are the Top 5 Richest Countries in Africa.
5 – Morocco (GDP of $169.8 billion)
To begin the list is Morocco, Africa’s fifth largest economy yielding a gross domestic product of $169.8 billion. Much of Morocco’s wealth stems from the services industry, meaning a large portion of their GDP is obtained from mining, construction, and manufacturing. This isn’t uncommon for many African nations, as many of them at least partially rely on the export of some valuable natural resource to drive their economy. In Morocco’s case, they rely on the export of phosphate, a natural resource often used as a vital ingredient in fertilizers, pesticides, and animal feeds. In the 1970’s, Morocco took control of Western Sahara, resulting in their control of nearly two-thirds of the world’s phosphate reserves. In addition to phosphate, Morocco also mines barite, cobalt, fluorspar, and lead. Also similarly to many other African nations, agriculture plays a crucial role in driving Morocco’s economy, with their leading exports being tomatoes, oranges, and olives. The rapid development of Morocco’s economy has, in recent years, resulted in a growth of over 4% annually, decidedly making them one of Africa’s richest nations.
4 – Algeria (GDP of $272.5 billion)
The northern African nation of Algeria holds Africa’s fourth best performing economy, with the nation having a gross domestic product of $272.5 billion. The United Arab Emirates is currently the seventh richest country in the world, mostly because of its oil reserves which make up a third of its GDP. While Algeria is nowhere near as wealthy, the value of crude oil has done tremendously well for Algeria’s economy and gross domestic product. According to recent estimates, Algeria’s oil reserves hold an astounding 12 billion barrels of oil. In addition to this, Algeria has the tenth largest reserve of natural gas in the world. Cumulatively, these two make up more than 95 percent of Algeria’s total export revenues. Normally, an examination of an African nation’s economy wouldn’t be complete without some mention of the importance of agriculture. Interestingly though, this really isn’t the case with Algeria. While Algeria’s economy had been driven by agriculture before the 1960’s, the discovery of oil and natural gasses rendered agriculture to be less and less important over time.
3 – Egypt (GDP of $284.860 billion)
Egypt, which currently has a GDP of $284.860 billion. In order to somewhat understand how Egypt has become one of Africa’s richest nations, one must take a look at how political reforms and developments have restructured Egypt’s economy over time. Under former President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt ran on import substitution, and later increased openness in order to attract foreign investment. In particular, Egypt thrived in tourism and manufacturing. In later years however, Egypt suffered a long period of political unrest and reform, which directly impacted the structure and performance of their economy. The events of the January 2011 revolution for example, a revolution that resulted in the ousting of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, drastically hurt all sectors of Egypt’s economy. Since then however, the economy has begun another period of growth.
2 – South Africa (GDP of $341.216 billion)
Although South Africa struggled along with the rest of the world through an economic recession, it has managed to stay as Africa’s second strongest economy with a GDP of $341.216 billion. The roots of South Africa’s strong economic performance are historically evident, as its economy has been very sound throughout past years. South Africa benefits greatly from having very strong economic policies that work well in conjunction with their impressively diverse economy. Mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and financial sectors all play a key role in contributing to South Africa’s GDP. Particular interest should be placed in South Africa’s mining industry, which is among the strongest in the world. Starting with the discovery of diamond in 1867, South Africa has since taken advantage of a multitude of their other available natural resources, including chrome, manganese platinum and vanadium, all of which it stands as the largest producer. Although economists have predicted the slowing of economic growth throughout recent years, South Africa is also said to be able to recover in the future should its performance remain strong.
1 – Nigeria (GDP of $594.257 billion)
The Nigerian economy, with a GDP of $594.257 billion, serves not only as Africa’s richest, but also the 21st largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP. Though thriving within several sectors, Nigeria is both Africa’s largest exporter of oil, as well has having Africa’s largest natural gas reserves. Nigeria also has the sixth largest farm output in the world, an impressive feat especially considering how their agricultural sector has been particularly affected by political mismanagement. While some of the other entries on this list seem to be headed in a direction of economic growth and development, it is of recent consensus that Nigeria is spiraling faster and harder into a period of economic crisis. The agricultural sector, for example, hasn’t been able to keep up with Nigeria’s population growth, thus resulting in the necessity on the reliance of food imports. In conjunction, with prices of oil declining, Nigeria is unable to sustain itself with its exportation of oil, especially considering it only covers roughly 3 percent of the world’s total supply of oil. Though still convincingly Africa’s richest country, Nigeria may not remain as strong of an economic powerhouse through years to come.
As was made evident throughout this list, understanding the economic workflow of a country can be difficult, as there are multiple factors that can drastically hinder or advance a nation’s economy. Even so, it remains important to understand how these economies operate, as the strength of a nation’s economy can be the fundamental backbone needed to support and secure the nation as a whole.