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Top 20 Poorest Countries in Africa (2024)

What makes a country poor? It is general knowledge that countries are poor because of their economies; surprisingly the potential for innovative development is not the poor countries’ source of lack. Countries are rather poor because they shrink too often and not because they cannot grow.

However, the world’s poorest continent is Africa. Additionally, the rivalry is not extremely fierce. Millions of Africans now live in extreme poverty as a result of economic instability, political unrest, corruption, civil conflicts, and terrorist uprisings. Also, 23 of the 27 countries in the world that the World Bank now classifies as Low-Income Economies, the absolute poorest countries in the world are in Africa. 21 of the 55 countries with lower middle incomes are also found in Africa.

How did we rank the poorest countries in Africa?

There are commonly referenced indices used for measuring poverty and development in African countries. Below are the indices used in ranking the poorest countries in Africa;

  1. Human Development Index (HDI): The HDI, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), measures the overall development of countries based on indicators such as life expectancy, education, and income. Lower HDI scores typically indicate lower levels of development and higher poverty rates.
  2. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita: GDP per capita is a commonly used measure to assess the economic well-being of a country’s population. African countries with lower GDP per capita figures are often considered to have higher levels of poverty.
  3. Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): The MPI, also developed by the UNDP, takes into account a broader range of poverty indicators beyond income, including health, education, and living standards. Countries with higher MPI values have higher levels of multidimensional poverty.
  4. Poverty headcount ratio: This indicator measures the proportion of a country’s population living below the national poverty line or an international poverty line (such as the World Bank’s $1.90 per day). Countries with higher poverty headcount ratios are typically considered to have higher poverty levels.
  5. Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI): The CPI, published by Transparency International, ranks countries based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. High levels of corruption can hinder development and exacerbate poverty.

Gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income (GNI) per capita are two major metrics amongst others listed above, used to assess a nation’s prosperity. By dividing the total value of all the goods and services produced by a nation by the number of its citizens, the GDP per capita is calculated. Similar, but also including revenue from outside sources like foreign investments or business operations, is gross national income (GNI) per capita. Purchasing power parity (PPP) “international dollars” (int.$), a fictitious currency that facilitates country-to-country comparisons, or U.S. dollars (US$), are frequently used to denote GDP and GNI. Both measurements are very good measures of how wealthy, or in this case, how poor, a nation is.

poorest countries in Africa

Top 20 Poorest Countries in The World

1. Burundi (GDP Per Person $221.48)

Burundi is the poorest nation in the entire globe, not just in Africa, according to values for per capita GDP and GNI from the year 2021. Somalia, the second-poorest nation in Africa, keeps the same position. A large portion of the list follows this trend. The ten poorest nations in the world are all in Africa, with the sole exception of Afghanistan, an Asian nation with a GNI per capita of $500, which would put it at number six on the second list. Fair enough, this list comes with a big caveat: It’s probable that more non-African nations, especially North Korea, Syria, and/or Yemen, would be in the bottom 10 if they disclosed their GDP/GNI figures openly, but they normally don’t. Despite this, the majority of the list would still be made up of African nations.

2. Republic of Central Africa (GDP per person $461.14)

In both central and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Central African Republic is a nation. The nation gained independence in 1960, is landlocked, and has a total surface area of 620,000 square kilometers. 4.6 million people are living in the Central African Republic, the most of them are extremely impoverished.

Years of political unrest in the CAR eventually led to civil war. The Central African Republic has seen its fair share of coups, uprisings, political battles, and religious warfare over the past 40 years. In the past 20 years, one of the deadliest instances of ethnic cleansing has taken place in the Central African Republic.

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3. Democratic Republic of the Congo (GDP per person: $577.21)

There is a nation in Central Africa called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With 92 million citizens, this nation is among the largest in the world and serves as the clearest illustration that having a large population does not guarantee economic success.

The most profitable industries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are forestry, agriculture, and hunting. Additionally, it still has a sizable oil industry that produces petroleum for both internal and export purposes.

Mineral resources including uranium, lithium, gold and many others are found in the DRC. However, there hasn’t been much progress locally to benefit the populace. Over the years, the economy of the nation has not advanced much, and the average person is compelled to work sporadic jobs with no employment protections.

4. Somalia GDP Per Person $446.98)

A nation in the Horn of Africa is called Somalia. It is home to around 16 million people and covers about 637,657 square kilometers of territory. Due to the country’s exposure to the sea to the north and east, trade has a lot of potentials.

The violence that has plagued Somalia since 1986 is the main cause of the country’s devastated economy. Somalia has remained one of the world’s most impoverished nations due to a poorly developed economy that is under military leadership. The Somalian armies mismanaged the best portion of its resources, which could have been used to boost the country’s economy. Somalia’s economy is dependent on cattle, remittances from abroad, and telecommunications. These, however, still fall short of what is required to boost the economy of the nation.

5. Niger (GDP per person $1,331)

The West African nation of Niger is well-endowed with minerals and has a thriving agricultural industry. This landlocked nation shares borders with Burkina Faso, Algeria, Nigeria, Libya, Chad, and the Benin Republic. A large portion of the area is desert, making it unsuitable for farming.

Exports to other countries and a sizable amount of domestic output help Niger’s economy even more. Because the majority of its exports are to other less developed African nations, Niger is unable to see consistent economic growth despite its high level of domestic production. The Nigerien government has implemented flexible privatization measures to stabilize the economy. At the moment, Niger is thought to have a GDP per capita of $1,213.

The newly stable nation has been putting a lot of effort into developing strategic ties with its neighbors, particularly Nigeria. However, the issue of widespread poverty persists. In actuality, it appears that achieving food security will take a while.

6. Malawi (GDP of Malawi: $634.84)

East African nation of Malawi. As a landlocked nation, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique are its neighbors. With only roughly 19 million citizens, the nation is fairly small.

Malawi continues to be one of the least developed nations in Africa, with scant industrial or infrastructure development. The majority of the populace engages in subsistence farming and primarily resides in rural areas. The nation has a sizable tourism economy, which has fueled the creation of arts and crafts.

Most people in the nation currently make less than the poverty line. Farmers are beginning to gather to discuss how to better their lives, however, it will take some time before the effects of these actions are seen throughout the nation.

The nation has depended on aid payments from the IMF and other foreign organizations for a long time, but there are considerable worries about corruption and the money not being used for any significant progress.

7. Mozambique (GPD per person: $491.84)

A nation in East Africa is called Mozambique. The nation has a long coastline that faces the Indian Ocean and is situated directly on the eastern coast of Africa. With a population of approximately 30,066,648 people, the nation has a land area of 801,590 km2. This nation’s terrain is primarily arable.

Mozambique is among the less developed countries in Africa that is primarily reliant on subsistence farming. Mozambique’s economy has had slow growth due to two main issues: excessive reliance on foreign aid, and a high rate of inflation. But the Mozambican government has started putting in place macroeconomic measures to boost the economy and keep it growing steadily. The GDP per person in the nation is currently only $491.84.

8. Liberia (GPD per person: $676.66)

The province of Liberia was founded for emancipated American slaves. It appears that not much was done to assist this nascent nation in becoming self-sufficient. The nation is adjacent to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Liberia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean as well. The population of the 111,369 km2 country is approximately 5 million.

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One of the poorest nations in Africa, Liberia is in West Africa and mainly depends on mining and agriculture. The nation largely relies on the exportation of minerals like rubber and iron ore to increase its GDP level. Before the Civil War, Liberia had a stable economy, but as a result of the conflict, the nation has suffered from several catastrophes, including a damaged infrastructure, misunderstandings, political upheaval, and a lack of capital resources. The Liberian government is focusing its efforts on utilizing contemporary technology to enhance the agriculture industry. The GDP per person in Liberia is currently $676.66

9. South Sudan (GDP $1,072)

A country in Central Africa is called South Sudan. Ethiopia, Sudan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Kenya are its neighbors. The nation has a population of roughly 12,778,250 people and a land area of 644,329 km2. Given that it barely attained independence in 2011, this nation is among the youngest in the world.

However, there is optimism for the future because the nation contains mineral resources such as oil, gas, iron, chromium, tungsten, and copper.

10. Sierra Leone (GDP per person is $480)

Although agriculture in Sierra Leone significantly contributes to employment, the government’s weak support for the industry has prevented the nation from experiencing any discernible progress. In the meantime, overreliance on mineral exploitation causes the Sierra Leonean economy to continuously contract.

Because the government believes that the country’s gold and diamonds are sufficient to persuade foreigners to make investments in the country, Sierra Leone hasn’t made any significant progress in its numerous industries outside of the mining sector. Currently, Sierra Leone’s GDP per person is $480.

11. Madagascar (GDP $500.51)

Madagascar has utilized its ample natural resources (such as minerals and agricultural products) over the years to support its export base. Madagascar has been able to maintain a stable economy thanks to the impact of its mining and agricultural sectors. On a sadder side, Madagascar continues to be a poor country in Africa as a result of its many political catastrophes, which have deterred foreigners from making investing there. In the meantime, Madagascar concentrates on developing its tourism industry so that it can be used as an extra source of income.

12. Eritrea (GDP per person is $643.79)

Being a country in the horn of Africa with significant mineral potential, Eritrea heavily depends on the export of minerals, notably marble, granite, gold, and copper. At the same time, more than 27% of Eritrea’s GDP comes from remittances sent home by international employees. Eritrea is still regarded as one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa despite several setbacks regarding insufficient income creation. The Eritrean government is currently attempting to increase domestic employment as a foundation for preventing perceived foreign control. Eritrea is one of the poorest nations in Africa, with a GDP per capita of $643.79.

13. Togo (GPD per person: $973.21)

On the Gulf of Guinea is the tiny West African nation of Togo. With a population of about 8 million, the nation is well-known for its beaches.

Another impoverished nation in Africa that primarily relies on subsistence farming is Togo. Unfortunately, poor harvests and insufficient rainfall have hurt the nation’s GDP. Although the latter issues are a part of Togo’s slow rate of economic growth, the country is making a lot of effort to change the structure of its economy. In that situation, the nation still has a strong labor force, which has elevated its standards to a crucial level. Togo has benefited from significant investments in cotton farming, paving the path for yet another cash stream.

14. Guinea-Bissau (GDP per person is $795.12)

One of the most underdeveloped countries on the African continent is Guinea-Bissau, a West African country. The nation’s two main industries for generating income are fishing and agriculture. As a result of rebellious activity, instability and economic devastation are present throughout Guinea Bissau. Guinea Bissau’s economy has long experienced several abnormalities, but with the help of recent events, it is slowly emerging from the woods.

Notably, one of these achievements has been a positive rise in cashew crop yield.

15. Burkina Faso (GDP $893.08)

One of the most impoverished nations in Africa in Burkina Faso. It has been affected by political instability, which has slowed progress, like the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Burkina Faso continues to rely heavily on international assistance, although there are allegations of corruption over how the monies are used. More than 75% of Burkina Faso’s population relies largely on agriculture for their food. Due to outdated technologies and erratic rains, the nation has unfortunately been impacted by a decline in productivity. In addition, because of the fragile soil, resource scarcity, and high population density, the nation’s economy has seen serious setbacks.

16. Mali (Per-capita GDP: $873.79)

West African nation of Mali has a varied geography and a lengthy history. Due to its significant river ports, the nation has a lot of potential for trade and business.

Despite having mineral resources, Mali continues to be politically unstable and underdeveloped. Majority of the local people of Mali are reliant on agriculture for livelihood. The nation barely has enough resources to support itself, and its economy still lags despite receiving financial aid from foreign agencies like The World Bank. Mali carries the weight of excessive debt rather than overcoming its financial challenges. Mali is currently concentrating attention on its mining and fishing industries to prevent future financial troubles.

17. The Gambia (GDP $772.15)

One of the most underdeveloped nations in Africa, The Gambia lacks substantial mineral resources. As a result, the nation scarcely makes any money from exports, leaving cattle as the primary source of income. Gambia finds it challenging to increase its production level due to a lack of agricultural area. Gambia relies heavily on foreign aid to keep its economy from collapsing. The Gambian government encourages people to start small enterprises to achieve sustainable economic standards.

Although The Gambia is still one of the poorest nations in Africa, this may soon change. The nation is in West Africa and has a very small population as well as a limited land area.

18. Guinea (GDP $1,189.18)

Another African nation whose development has been hindered by political unrest in Guinea. Even though this region is still among the poorest in the world, with a GPD per capita of $1,189.18, there is a lot of room for progress.

The nation hopes to alter its economic trajectory by forming strategic alliances and taking advantage of its proceeds from natural resources. The government receives a large portion of its funding from the bauxite and iron industries, and Guineans who work abroad also contribute to the economy.

19. Chad (GDP $685.69)

Dictatorship, political turmoil, and civil war have all been experienced by the West African nation of Chad. Unfortunately, there isn’t much infrastructure in place to support the local population in getting by. The majority of people in the nation are considered to be poor.

Subsistence farming is practiced by a large portion of the population, and keeping farm animals is also common here. Although the once-dominant cotton sector is slowly making a comeback, it is still too early to tell what the future holds for it.

20. Republic of Benin (Per-capita GDP: $1,319.15)

Due to its heavy reliance on the production of cotton and subsistence agriculture, the Benin Republic is also one of the less developed nations in Africa. Foreigners who own the majority of the enterprises rule the economy of the nation. Benin Republic generates a lot, but it doesn’t make a lot of money because a lot of its businesses are controlled and owned by foreigners. The government of the Benin Republic has focused its investments on regional goods like cocoa, peanuts, and pineapples to increase its earnings. The Benin Republic is ranked as the 20th poorest nation in Africa.

Summary Table of the 20 Poorest Countries in Africa

SNPoorest CountriesGDP Per Person
2Republic of Central Africa$461.14
3Democratic Republic of the Congo$577.21
9South Sudan$1,072
10Sierra Leone$480
15Burkina Faso$893.08
17The Gambia$772.15
20Republic of Benin$1319.15


Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the majority of the continent’s poorest nations, which have suffered from long periods of resource mismanagement. These nations have had several dictatorships that have effectively scared away investors while succeeding in making the populace more destitute. Unfortunately, a lot of these nations continue to experience political instability, which is a sign of poverty.