There is a common perception that Africa is rich in resources but has failed to use them to fund the creation of prosperous societies. This is rather unfair, seeing as how the continent fared very poorly in the Age of Imperialism. Never mind how the institutions that create and maintain prosperous societies can't spring into existence ex nihilo. Regardless, while Africa is still struggling with a wide range of issues, there are some African countries that have managed better economic performances in recent decades than others. For proof, these are the 10 richest countries in Africa listed by World Atlas, which in turn, is using data on GDP per capita from the International Monetary Fund for 2017:
10. Namibia - $11,528
The Republic of Namibia came into existence in 1990. This was made possible by the War of Namibian Independence, which was fought between the People's Liberation Army of Namibia and the South African Defense Force. Nowadays, Namibia is seen as a developing country with some serious potential. However, it has a number of serious issues as well, which range from severe income disparity to a very high unemployment rate.
9. Tunisia - $11,987
Tunisia is one of the countries that make up the Maghreb. As such, it encompasses some of the Sahara Desert as well as some of the Atlas Mountains, though it is home to a fair amount of fertile land as well. With that said, much of the Tunisian economy rests on energy and tourism. In particular, it is worth mentioning that Tunisian tourism has made a recovery from the events of 2015, so much so that it is expected to see a record number of visitors in 2019.
8. Egypt - $12,994
Once upon a time, Egypt was an economic wonder because of the Nile, which often enabled Egyptians to produce huge surpluses. In the present time, Egypt is struggling with various issues such as political instability and the drying up of the Nile, which are hindering it from reaching its true potential. Still, Egypt remains one of the wealthier African countries when gauged using GDP per capita.
7. South Africa - $13,403
South Africa is a country with a mixed economy that isn't too reliant on a single thing. However, it is also a country that remains plagued by income disparity. Something that can be traced to the not too distant past. In fact, the situation is so bad that the World Bank actually named it the country with the worst income inequality in the entire world in 2018.
6. Algeria - $15,000
Algeria does well enough. However, its economy is very reliant on oil and gas, which is a huge problem because a fall in the prices for those commodities tends to have a horrendous impact on the economic well-being of its citizens. Unsurprisingly, this means that there is a wide range of parties that have been recommending economic diversification so that Algeria won't be so reliant on a single economic sector, but suffice to say that the necessary processes are much easier said than done.
5. Botswana - $18,146
Botswana is a landlocked country with a small population, which aren't exactly encouraging signs when it comes to economics. However, it has seen some very respectable economic gains over the course of its history, which becomes less surprising when one learns that it has been a stable democracy ever since it gained independence. Granted, it isn't perfect, but it has managed to ensure low corruption as well, which has enabled it to make good use of its mineral wealth and other natural resources.
4. Gabon - $19,266
Gabon is another excellent example of a country with a respectable economic performance because of oil. However, it faces the same issues as a number of other countries in the same situation, with an excellent example being its income inequality. Said country is seeking to bridge the gap between its rich and its poor, but it remains to be seen how well it will be able to do so in the times to come.
3. Mauritius - $21,628
Mauritius is a true success in spite of the odds being stacked against it at the time of its independence. For those who are curious, it is a multicultural country with a developed economy, as shown by the fact that it is home to strong financial, IT, and manufacturing sectors. On top of this, Mauritius offers not just free education but also free universal healthcare for its citizens, meaning that in a sense, it is an interesting reminder of what the future could hold for Africa as African countries continue to resolve their issues.
2. Seychelles - $28,172
Seychelles is home to fewer than 100,000 people. However, it has one of the highest GDPs per capita on the entire African continent, which can be attributed in considerable part to its tourism sector. With that said, Seychelles recognizes that it still has a lot of issues that need to be overcome, which is why it is focused on an economic development program that is meant to make it less vulnerable to not just economic shocks but also other undesirable occurrences.
1. Equatorial Guinea - $34,865
Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country with a big oil sector. However, it is a good example of GDP per capita's limitations in gauging the economic health of a country, seeing as how it suffers from horrendous income inequality as well as a host of other ills. Some examples range from high child mortality rates to a very poor human rights record. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though the country's rulers are bothering to make a lot of improvements in this regard.
Written by Allen Lee
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