Top 17 Poorest African Countries 2023: Poverty is a complex problem. The most widely accepted definition of poverty is based on monetary considerations. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty is defined as earning less than $1.90 per day, or $700 per year. To put it another way, poor people earn less than what is considered essential to maintaining a single adult. According to this criterion, 10% of the global population is impoverished. Global poverty, on the other hand, has consumed billions more than this 10%.
The majority of Africa’s more than fifty countries are among the poorest in the world. The continent’s poverty levels have risen due to decades of inadequate leadership, political instability, and low economic growth. Despite the continent’s enormous natural resources, many people remain impoverished. In comparison to other parts of Africa, poverty is substantially worse in Sub-Saharan Africa, with most countries in the region seeing diminishing growth and rising poverty since their independence.
Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and gross national income (GNI) per capita are two metrics that are frequently used to determine a country’s wealth. GDP per capita is calculated by dividing the total value of a country’s goods and services by its population. GNI per capita is comparable, but it also includes any income generated outside of the country, such as from overseas investments or company activity.
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Top 17 Poorest Countries in Africa by GDP 2023
The following is a list of the poorest African countries as of 2022. The rankings are based on each country’s most current GDP per capita.
1. BURUNDI (GDP PER CAPITA $771): Burundi’s population is 11.58 million people. With an economic growth rate of 3.21 per cent, it is one of Africa’s poorest countries.
The per capita GDP is 771 dollars. Burundi has a poverty rate of 65 per cent, with one out of every three Burundians in need of humanitarian aid. The AIDS pandemic has had a large impact on the country.
2. SOMALIA (GDP PER CAPITA $875): The Horn of Africa is home to Somalia. In early 2020, the World Bank predicted a population of 16.62 million. The gross domestic product (GDP) per person in the country is $875.
For many years, Somalia has been wracked by civil war. Somalia’s civil conflict continues. In the country, there is no functional government. As a result, there is no output or economy. Instead, Somalia is beset by famine and malnutrition, making it one of Africa’s poorest nations. Political unrest, including terrorist attacks, have wreaked havoc on the country. With a 67 per cent youth unemployment rate and many youngsters living in poverty, the situation is dire. The poor’s life in Somalia is being made worse by severe drought and harsh weather.
3. THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (GDP PER CAPITA $980): The Central African Republic’s GDP per capita is $980. Economic growth has been hampered by sociopolitical problems. Internal wars have plagued the Central African Republic, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. Although the Central African Republic is recognized for its diamond trade, the diamond trade has no financial value in the country. This is regarded to be a purely political affair.
Agriculture and mining are the two primary sectors that contribute to the economy’s growth. In 2018, the rate of inflation was 3.9 per cent. CAR is ranked 161 in the 2020 index for economic freedom, with a score of 49.1.
4. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (GDP PER CAPITA $1,131): Middle Africa is home to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In terms of natural resources, it is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Its economy, on the other hand, is one of Africa’s poorest. It has an estimated population of 81,339,988, with a substantial percentage of the population living in poverty. According to the World population review, it has a $1,131 GDP per capita.
The poverty rate in 2012, according to the World Bank, was 64 per cent. However, the country is making significant progress in overcoming poverty, and in the future years, it may overtake countries like India.
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5. NIGER (GDP PER CAPITA $1,263): The country of Niger is a landlocked one. The country’s GDP per capita is $1,263. According to World Bank estimates from 2020, the country’s poverty rate is 44.1 per cent. Over 300,000 refugees have taken up residence in the country. It has a rapidly growing population, food insecurity, political instability, and natural disasters.
The agricultural industry is responsible for almost 40% of economic growth. Furthermore, agriculture provides a significant portion of the overall population’s daily income. Since 2011, the country has been growing its public debt to fund new initiatives. Unfortunately, the country is largely reliant on foreign debt, placing it in jeopardy of severe financial trouble.
6. MOZAMBIQUE (GDP PER CAPITA $1,297): After 15 years of civil conflict, Mozambique, which had been exploited by the Portuguese for centuries, is an African country attempting to progress. Mozambique is home to 31.41 million people, with 41% living in poverty. Despite its abundant natural resources, Mozambique, one of the continent’s poorest countries, is attempting to accelerate its economic growth by exploiting natural gas and coal deposits discovered in the country recently.
Mozambique’s economy has grown significantly throughout the years. The most recent GDP per capita is $1,297. This shows that the country’s economy has been improving since the end of the civil war. With a score of above 48, it is one of the world’s most free economies on the 2020 world index. Economic growth has been fueled by factors such as higher government spending, fair trade restrictions, and a lower tax burden.
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7. LIBERIA (GDP PER CAPITA $1,428): Liberia’s current GDP per capita is $1,428, according to the World population review. It is one of the countries that has consistently rated among the world’s poorest. Despite its abundant subterranean and overland resources, Liberia is an impoverished country in West Africa that has suffered from a lack of education and Western exploitation.
Since 2003, the country has had political stability. Its government, on the other hand, has failed to bring its population out of poverty. The country’s high external borrowing has put it at risk of being overly reliant on foreign funding. From 2014 to 2016, the country was ravaged by the Ebola virus, which hampered humanitarian imports. Furthermore, the lack of and delayed development of infrastructure continues to be a deterrent to potential foreign investment.
8. MALAWI (GDP PER CAPITA $1,568): Malawi is landlocked since it is surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and Africa. The majority of people in this country, which earned independence from the British about 50 years ago, are still impoverished.
At the moment, the country’s GDP per capita is $1,568. Agriculture has a significant impact on the country’s economic growth. In addition, its tobacco sector is thriving.
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9. MADAGASCAR (GDP PER CAPITA $1,593): The GDP per capita in the country is approximately $1,593. The country’s economy has grown significantly in recent years, according to the World Bank. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is continually increasing. The country’s economy relies heavily on the trading sector. Poverty has resulted in malnutrition in a large portion of the country’s population, particularly children. The poorest citizens of the country have restricted access to basic necessities of life.
10. CHAD (GDP PER CAPITA $1,603): The GDP per capita is $1,603, while the GNI per capita is $660 in this landlocked country in North Central Africa. Political instability, as well as desertification, are important issues in this country.
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11. GAMBIA: As from 2021 to 2022, this country has a GDP per capita of $750 out of a total GDP of $2.08 million with over 2.56 million people in its population. Its low GDP per capita has made it to be enlisted among the poorest African countries.
In 2019, the economic growth of Gambia was rapid at 6.2 % which was backed by the record of the arrival of tourists, improvement of confidence, and appropriate macroeconomic management which helped in reducing the national deficit budgeting in the country as a result of increments in international reserves closer to prudential levels and distress from debts. However in 2020, the pandemic crisis negatively affected this rapid growth of Gambia in the previous years by 0.2 % and 3% in real GDP per capita which fought against the measures that were put in place for poverty alleviation at that time.
As at 2021, the economy started recovering phlegmatically in that the percentage of growth in different sectors in the country was slow since after the pandemic incidence till today.
These sectors include: poverty rate, driven by the recovery in the labour market of agriculture, the fiscal or national deficit e.t.c. Recurrent spending reduced as pandemic-related support was withdrawn and the public debt-to-GDP declined to 83 % with sustainable outlook but the risk of external and overall debt distress remaines high till 2022 according to the report from the “Debt Sustainability Analysis” by the IMF.
12. RWANDA: In the said period of time, Rwanda has a GDP per capita of $870 out of a total GDP of $11.07 billion with a population of over 12.94 million people and as a result, has become one of the poorest in Africa today.
Just like in Gambia, the economy of Rwanda fell drastically as a result of the negative impact of the pandemic in 2020. Rwanda’s economy started recovering slowly from 2021 till what it is today.
Those sectors of its economy that were tampered by the pandemic which is now recuperating include: measures for the restriction or eradication of the pandemic, sustainability of Rwandan fiscal stimulus, accelerated vaccination rollout in the country, and recovery in global demand from the country.
As at 2022, Rwandan gradual growth in economy is in the aspects of: its expansion in industry, inflationary rates (as regards to reduction in food prices), services, and agriculture and its GDP per capita is recovering slowly till what it was in 2021 (which is $870 even though it is anticipated to increase by 2022).
However, Rwandan monetary policy was manageable all these while till date as a result of its low interest rate which is kept at an affordable percentage of 4.5% from the pandemic era to the early 2022 in order to support the country’s economic recovery. But later in 2022, the percentage increased thereby increasing the poverty rate till what it is today.
Today, the financial sector of Rwanda is stable with the ratio of 26.3% as in 2021 and its national deficit remained at the same percentage as it was in 2021 due to the pandemic expenditures and these are the reasons why the country is left with poor economic recovery in terms of GDP per capita and is one of the poorest in Africa today.
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13. SOUTH SUDAN: The Republic of South Sudan is an East African country bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Sudan Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Congo. The Capital of South Sudan is Juba which is also the country’s largest city. South Sudan is one of poorest country in Africa. The country has remained in poverty despite its oil reserve and other natural resources. The country’s GDP is projected at 2.00 USD Billion as at 2022. South Sudan records a great number of what inhabitants in extreme poverty, poor infrastructures and services. The persistent civil war had in South Sudan in struggle for its independence contributes to the country’s state of economy today.
South Sudan got her independence in 2011, being the latest independent country. South Sudan is still underdeveloped particularly in areas of industrialization and technological advancement. The World Bank has estimated that about 82% of the people living in South Sudan live in poverty. The country is faced with the problem of unsafe drinking water and sanitation.
The health care system is a poor one as the country can only afford less than 3% investment on the health care sector. South Sudan is faced with the problem of food insecurity, child marriage and low access to education as a result of poverty and cultural convictions.
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14. SIERRA LEONE: Sierra Leone is a West African Country. 80% of the people living in Sierra Leone live in poverty, particularly those living in the North region. Sierra Leone is a country notorious for mining, production of titanium and other mineral resources such as gold, diamond, iron ore and so on. Sierra Leon is projected to have a GDP of 4.10 USD Billion by 2022.
Sierra Leon records a high rate of unemployment, corruption and bad governance which is concomitant to poor education system. Sierra Leone has remained in poverty since after their independence in 1961. The outbreak of Ebola Virus which originated and dominated in Sierra Leone as at the 2014 also struck the country to a few steps backwards in development. Due to poor health sector, Sierra Leone has high mortality rate generally and maternal mortality rate. The rate of adult literacy is about 40%. The country has low rate of productivity and they depend on foreign aid.
15. ERITREA: Eritrea is an East African country. The country’s GDP is projected at 5.60 USD Billion. Over 60% of people living in Eritrea live in extreme poverty. Eritrea was ranked 189 on the list of countries with ease of doing business, a ranking which is close to the last, Eritrea has experienced wars, drought and famines and these factors contribute to the country’s poverty rate.
Drought particularly affects productivity in the agricultural sector. Over 20% of eligible school children are out of school, there is high rate of migration from the country, and there are problems of access to safe water.
16. TOGO: Togo is a West African country, and one the poorest countries in Africa and in the world. According to the list by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Togo is the 10th poorest country in the world. Over 80% of the rural inhabitants live in extreme poverty. Togo is in deficient of commercial infrastructures, and developed markets.
The agricultural sector which is an utmost source of livelihood for the Togolese is still faced with development challenges. Togo is stuck with political instability and incurred debts. Togo has a low-income economy and it is one of the least developed counties in the world.
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17. GUINEA-BISSAU: Guinea Bissau is a country in West Africa. Its capital and largest city is Bissau. The country has an estimated population of over 2 million people. Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in Africa and in the world. Guinea Bissau got her independence in 1974 and since then it has been under political instability, underdevelopment and high rate of poverty.
About 70% of people in the country live in poverty. Guinea-Bissau has a malnutrition rate of about 25% and high infant and maternity mortality rate as a result of poverty and inadequate health facilities. Agriculture is the country’s ultimate source of living. Guinea-Bissau is on the list of the least developed countries in the world and on the top to list of the world poorest countries. Guinea-Bissau is equally dependent on foreign aid.
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A country cannot boast of a stable economy when a greater percentage of its population lives in poverty. It is in fact the wealth of the population that contributes to the economy of a country, A few things are common between the countries afore-listed as the poorest countries in Africa, and it means that the problems being faced by the countries have been identified are clear.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.