Top 12 Poorest Countries in Africa

Africa is developing fast but there are less than just a handful of countries that are making a global impact whose economy is actually growing. Some African countries are still regarded among the poorest countries in the world today. A large number of citizens in most countries in the largest populous black continent still live in abject poverty with only a few people being able to afford to live above the poverty line. Political insecurity and war has made some of these nations difficult to live in. The classification below is based on International Monetary Fund’s gross domestic product per capita (GDP per capita) which is a measure of purchasing power in the international market. This article highlights some of the poorest countries in Africa and some background information about them, here goes the list:

Below is the List of Poorest Countries in Africa

  1. Mali- GDP Per Capita: $715
  2. Sierra Leone- GDP Per Capita:$679
  3. Togo- GDP Per Capita: $636
  4. Eritrea- GDP Per Capita: $544
  5. Ethiopia- GDP Per Capita: $505
  6. Madagascar- GDP Per Capita: $463
  7. Democratic Republic of Congo– GDP Per Capita: $484
  8. Liberia- GDP Per Capita: $454
  9. 4. Niger- GDP Per Capita: $415
  10. Central African Republic- GDP Per Capita: $333
  11. Burundi- GDP Per Capita:$267
  12. Malawi- GDP Per Capita: $226

12. MALI

GDP Per Capita – $715


Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa which lies in the arid Sahel that stretches over 3,500 km from Mauritania in the west to Chad in the east. It has an estimated population of about 14.5 million. Poverty in Mali is pervasive. Food sufficiency is highly dependent on the harshness and unpredictability of the climate (for example, rainfall patterns). This is compounded by seasonal variations in the weather, which tend to be particularly acute during the pre-harvest period. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average worker’s annual salary is approximately US$1,500. However, there is a forecast that the GDP would rise to $1,614 this year.


GDP Per Capita: $679

Flag of Sierra Leone - Africa's poorest countries

Sierra Leone is an English-speaking west African country that greatly relies on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base and mineral exports. It remains the main foreign currency earner and also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, and a major producer of gold. The country also boasts of the third largest natural harbor in the world where shipping from all over the globe berth at Freetown’s famous Queen Elizabeth II Quay.  Sierra Leone is one of the largest producers of diamond. The very costly compound generates billions of dollars for the country but despite this natural wealth, 70% of its people live in poverty.

10. TOGO

GDP Per Capita: $636

Flag of Togo - 10 Poorest countries in Africa

Togo is a small West African country with a population of 6.7 million people but it’s still regarded as one of the poorest countries in Africa. Unlike some other nations that have developed to have stronger military and economic power, this West African country suffers from very lean economic growth and approximately one half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Agriculture is the major source of income which also provides jobs for the major part of the population. Natural raw materials like Cocoa, coffee, and cotton seed contribute up to 40% of all earnings from exportation. Among all these, cotton is the largest contributing cash crop. Togo is also rich in natural minerals and is among the largest producers of phosphate in the world.

See Also: 10 Richest Countries in Africa


GDP Per Capita: $544 

Flag of Eritrea

Affected by the Italian colonizers of the 19th century. Eritrea’s advantage of controlling the sea route through the Suez Canal made the italians to colonized it just a year after the opening of the canal in 1869 and same reason the British conquered it in 1941. Ethiopia’s annexation of Eritrea as a province sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating the government forces. The present Eritrea’s economy has been growing at a millipede speed, conditions have not improved.


GDP Per Capita: $505


Notwithstanding that Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the Africa, it still remains one of the poorest countries of the continent. About 29 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line. The country ranks 174th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s human development index, and average per capita incomes are less than half the current sub-Saharan average. Ethiopia has enormous potential for agricultural development, but the vast majority of farmers are smallholders. These farmers are extremely vulnerable to external shocks such as volatile global markets and drought and other natural disasters. However, it must be noted that Ethiopia used to rank top in the list of poorest African countries but for some years now, there has been significant improvement in the people’s standard of living. The pace of poverty reduction in Ethiopia since 2000 has been impressive, and particularly so when compared to some other poor African countries.


GDP Per Capita: $463

madagascar (1)

Madagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean, 250 miles off the Southeastern coast of Africa, across the Mozambique Channel at the southern part of the equator. Over 1000 miles (1580 km) long and 350 miles (570 km) wide. Madagascar is considered part of the African continent, though it is many miles away from Africa. Madagascar came into being about 88 million years ago when it broke off from India. It is regarded as the fourth largest island in the world. The major business of the inhabitants is farming, fishing and hunting. Poverty is rampant, as in recently, the population of Madagascar was estimated at just over 22 million, 90 percent of whom live on less than two dollars per day.

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