17 Poorest countries in Africa (2024)

Africa’s poverty isn’t caused by a lack of natural resources; rather, it is the result of widespread social injustice. Most of the world’s destitute may be found in Africa. There has not been the best leadership on the continent; consequently, Africans are unable to satisfy their demands caused by a lack of developed infrastructure.

While the definition of poverty might vary from one location to another and throughout history, it is a fact that many of Africa’s poor are completely powerless in their current circumstances. As over a million Africans battle with less than a dollar a day, they are unable to afford even the necessities like food, clothing, and shelter.

When a person’s youthful days are gone, they are usually thrown into deeper poverty caused by a lack of money, access to adequate healthcare, and education. Despite a cultural norm of hard work, the inhabitants of Sub-Saharan Africa have not seen much improvement in their living situations.

The poorest countries in Africa

RankCountryGDP per capita
4.Central Africa Republic$511.5
6.Sierra Leone$515.9
7.Democratic Republic of the Congo$584.1
12.The Gambia835.6
14.Burkina Faso$918.2
16.South Sudan$1,119.7

1. Burundi

Burundi, an Eastern African country with a GDP per capita of 236.8 USD in 2021, is ravaged by poverty and starvation and perpetually sits atop the list of the poorest countries. The country is struggling with a high level of food scarcity, joblessness, and food insecurity. 

A vast majority of Burundians are subsistence farmers and are still struggling with poor access to water and electricity. But one would ponder why Burundi would still occupy such an ebb after the civil war ended about 15 years ago.

A plethora of Burundians were displaced by the war and incessant coups, and they are yet to fully recover from the debilitating condition. More so, the country is facing the challenge of corrupt leadership, and poor infrastructure and insecurity have been the ingredients of the strife and poverty in Burundi

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2. Somalia

Somalia is often associated with murder, anarchy, and abject poverty. The majority of the population (around 43 per cent) survives on less than $1 per day, and cattle production is the country’s primary economic driver. According to the World Bank data for 2021, Somalia has a GDP per capita of 445.8 USD.  

Conditions have stabilized sufficiently in recent years to attract international investment in the production of Hallel meat for export to neighbouring countries, raising living standards to levels last seen in the early 1990s. Money returned home by Somalis living abroad is crucial to the country’s economy.

3. Mozambique

Mozambique generates some revenue, but the GDP per capita of 500.4 USD indicates that this money is not reaching the country’s citizens. Mozambique has requested the assistance of other African countries in the battle against its Islamic insurgency so that it may focus on repairing its shaky economy after losing $2 billion in loan monies.

The good news about Mozambique is that a mutation has occurred in the country’s elephant populations, rendering baby elephants tuskless and safe from poachers’ bullets.

4. The Central African Republic

As of 2021, the GDP per capita of the Central Africa Republic was 511.5 USD. Wars and acts of religious violence in the Central African Republic span decades. For most of the previous 20 years, the capital was the only place the central government had any control, and in 2013, rebels overran the capital. 

People in Central Africa have been displaced from their homes and into refugee camps, only to be uprooted again. Lawlessness, sickness, and a lack of infrastructure devastate the economy. Still, UN peacekeeping forces have restored stability to the nation since 2016, and the World Bank has invested in minor company growth.

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5. Madagascar

Due to the drought, more than 2 million people in Madagascar are at immediate risk of hunger. Large swaths of Madagascar’s terrain have been destroyed by drought and fires, destroying what was once one of Earth’s most beautiful concentrations of biodiversity.

Nickel mining, textile manufacturing, and fishing are three areas that are doing rather well for Madagascar’s economy. Madagascar has a GDP per capita of 514.9 USD, according to 2021 World Bank data.

6. Sierra Leone

Like its neighbour Liberia, Sierra Leone has been ravaged by civil conflict and the Ebola pandemic. Sierra Leone, like neighbouring Guinea, has suffered from natural catastrophes, most notably mudslides.

Two-thirds of the population relies on rice cultivation as a means of survival. Although one of Africa’s poorest nations, Sierra Leone has a GDP per capita of 515.9 USD according to 2021 data. Incredibly large sums of money are sent from Sierra Leonean expats to their loved ones back home.

7. Democratic Republic of Congo

According to World Bank data in 2021, DRC has a GDP per capita of 584.1 USD. Rare earth mineral mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is both an opportunity and a threat since these minerals are used to produce the electric automobiles and telephones of the future. 

Since 1908, the world’s supply of cobalt has come mostly from this massive tropical rainforest nation. As so, it supplied the United States with the high-quality uranium ore it needed to develop the atomic bombs that helped win World War II. Capital from the United States kept mines operating in the 2000s, but the nation has now sold its mining concessions to a Chinese company.

Congolese citizens have few protections under the law, no legal protections in the workplace, and are mostly forced to settle for low-paying service occupations. The mining industry controls a large portion of the country’s GDP.

8. Eritrea

Commonly, people refer to Eritrea as the “North Korea of Africa.” It fought Ethiopia for independence from the 1960s until 1990, and then it was barely independent for eight years until it started a brutal conflict with Ethiopia in 1998 that didn’t conclude until 2018. 

Eritrea, like North Korea, became a military dictatorship that compelled its citizens to serve in the armed forces or work in the mines or factories unless they could prove they were ready to have a family or had significant financial means. The GDP per capita of Eritrea is 642.5 USD, based on 2021 World Bank data. Over the last several years, Eritrean migrants have made up the bulk of those trying to reach Europe from Africa.

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9. Malawi

Most Malawians are employed in agriculture, which is increasingly vulnerable to both drought and flood. Malawi has a small farm area that covers about 0.8 acres (0.3 hectares), yet according to the World Bank, it only harvests between 11% and 18% of its full potential and it has a GDP per capita of 642.7 USD as of 2021.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the formerly spectacular Lake Chilwa in Malawi has almost evaporated, throwing 7,000 fishermen out of work.

10. Liberia

Former American slaves formed Liberia in the 1820s and have just recovered from a bloody civil war with a government dominated by women. So far, they’ve been able to repair the infrastructure (including schools, hospitals, and roads) damaged during the conflict.

However, when foreign assistance programs ended in 2017, leaving the country to deal with its substantial economic issues on its own, an Ebola pandemic occurred in 2014. According to World Bank data in 2021, the GDP per capita of Liberia is 673.1 USD.

11. Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau has a GDP per capita of 813.0 USD. In the wake of a bloody struggle to overthrow the Portuguese, the people of Guinea-Bissau were subjected to a series of dictatorships, coups, and civil wars. No president has ever seen out his whole five-year tenure. 

The people of Guinea-Bissau mostly rely on fishing and cashew and peanut farming for sustenance. Some people living on the country’s coastline islands have succeeded in the drug smuggling industry, leading to the moniker “Pusher’s Paradise.” The war on the drug lords is being waged with no money from the government.

12. The Gambia

Men and women may be seen in this scene at Tanji, Gambia, West Africa, bringing fish from the boats to the shore.

With a GDP per capita of 835.6 USD, Gambia effectively manages its little resources. The tourist industry, vital to the country’s economy, is showing signs of recovery after the COVID epidemic.

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13. Mali

Mali’s current GDP per capita is 917.9 USD. The fact that the country’s cotton and gold exports bring in little money explains the country’s poverty. And by ethnic warfare, jihad, and a never-ending string of coups.

Over Twenty million of Mali’s 20,000,000 inhabitants have been forced to flee their homes in the previous two years, and over 250,000 have been murdered, despite the presence of 150,000 international peacekeeping soldiers, including 5,000 from France and 1,000 from the USA.

14. Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is blessed with considerable, verifiable gold ores but relies heavily on international help for its economy.

Corn, sorghum, millet, and rice are grown by the majority of the people. However, the country’s history of political upheaval and military mutiny means it has never had the advantage of the rule of law or reliable government institutions. The GDP per capita currently stands at 918.2 USD. 

15. Togo

Togo has successfully grown its economy and kept inflation low in recent years. The government’s revenues, however, are reliant on phosphate mining levies, which increase and fall with fluctuations in fertilizer prices.

With a GDP per capita of 992.3 USD, the majority of people still make their living via subsistence farming.

16. South Sudan

The economy of the Republic of South Sudan is very impoverished. It has one of the world’s highest rates of female illiteracy and infant mortality. Over forty per cent of its people are younger than fourteen, making it one of the countries with the youngest populations in the world. 

Among its many mineral resources are oil, gas, iron, chromium, tungsten, copper, gold, silver, and diamonds. There is extreme income inequality in South Sudan. South Sudan has a GDP per capita income of 1,119.7 USD, yet 90% of the population still survives with less than $1 per day.

17. Guinea

The increasing importance of Guinea as a bauxite and iron mining hub for Chinese industry has led to economic progress and political upheaval in the country. Because of the country’s turbulent political climate, widespread police corruption, and 60 years of ethnic warfare, Guineans have not directly benefited from their country’s recent economic boom.

Their GDP per capita currently stands at 1,174.4 USD, according to World Bank’s data in 2021. However, many of the country’s expats still send home significant amounts of money.

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The justice systems of all of Africa’s developing nations are broken and in need of change. The elimination of corruption and the establishment of a reliable administration are two issues that, if resolved, will make it much simpler to tackle other issues.

There is still a long way to go, but reforms in the areas of law and economics might provide Africa’s 17 poorest nations with the stability they need to face environmental and financial concerns.

Which country is the richest in Africa?

The richest country in Africa in terms of GDP in Nigeria.

What dominates the economy of Burundi?

The economy of Burundi is largely dominated by agriculture

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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