Africa is considered the poorest continent in the world. Poverty is a complex problem that is usually gauged in monetary terms. According to World Bank, extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $2.15 per day, or around $700 a year. This puts 10% of the world’s population below the poverty line. The 10% is on the lower side because global poverty has ensnared billions. Half of Africa’s population survives on less than $2.50 per day.
That said, it is vital to note that poverty entails much more than a lack of money. It is not strictly about gauging household income, income inequality, or economic growth. Poverty alters everything about an individual’s life experience. Not only does it impact a person’s basic needs, but it also affects every aspect of their life. Poverty causes:
- Child malnutrition
- Lack of access to clean water
- Lack of proper healthcare
- Lack of shelter
- Little or no opportunity for education
- Increased risk of exploitation and abuse
- A constant fear of the future
How Many Countries in Africa are in Poverty?
According to World Data Lab, 42 countries in Africa are living in poverty. Out of the 42 countries, the poverty rate is rising in 16 of those countries. 27 of the 28 world’s poorest countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each of them has a poverty rate of over 30 percent.
Even though the absolute number of people living below the global poverty line had decreased over the past several decades, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number has substantially increased. For instance, in 1990, the number of people living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa was 278 million. By 2015, that number had increased to 413 million, with the figures continuing to escalate.
Poorest Countries in Africa by GDP
Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita are two metrics that are typically used to determine the wealth of a country. GDP per capita is attained by dividing the total value of goods and services of a country by its population. On the other hand, GNI is comparable. It, however, also includes any income generated outside the country, like from overseas investments.
Below is a list of the poorest countries in Africa based on their current GDP per capita. The poorest country in Africa will often switch between the ones listed below.
Burundi – GDP Per Capita $771
Burundi has a population of about 11.58 million people. With its economic growth rate of 3.21%, it is considered to be one of the poorest countries in Africa. With a GDP per capita of $771, Burundi has a poverty rate of 65%, with one out of every three Burundi citizens in need of humanitarian aid.
Somalia – GDP Per Capita $875
Somalia is located on the horn of Africa. Its gross domestic product per person is $875.
Somalia has been wrecked by civil war for many years, and it still continues. There is no functional government in Somalia, and as a result, there is no economy or output. Instead, the country is beset by malnutrition and famine, making it one of the poorest countries in Africa. Other factors, such as political unrest, terrorist attack, unemployment, drought, and harsh weather conditions, have also worsened the situation in Somalia.
The Central African Republic – GDP Per Capita $980
The Central African Republic’s economic growth has been hampered by sociopolitical factors. Internal wars have plagued the country, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. Even though the Republic is acknowledged for its diamond trade, the diamond trade is regarded to be a political affair and has no financial value in the country. Mining and agriculture are the two key sectors that contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In terms of natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. In contrast, its economy is one of the poorest in the African continent. The country has a population estimate of 81,339,988, with a significant percentage of the population living below the poverty line. According to the world’s population review, the Democratic Republic of Congo has a GDP per capita of $1,131.
Niger – GDP Per Capita $1,263
Niger is a landlocked country with a poverty rate of 44.1%. The country hosts over 300,000 refugees and has a rapidly growing population. Niger’s agricultural industry accounts for up to 40% of the economic growth but is still reliant on foreign debt, making it vulnerable to severe financial debt.
Mozambique – GDP Per Capita $1,297
Mozambique was exploited by the Portuguese for centuries, and now, after 15 years of civil conflict, it is attempting to make progress. With a population of 31.41 million people and 41% of the population living below the poverty line, Mozambique is making attempts to accelerate its economic growth by exploiting coal deposits as well as natural gas discovered in the country recently.
Liberia – GDP Per Capita $1,428
Despite its subterranean and overland resources, Liberia is an impoverished West African country that has consistently been rated among the poorest countries in the world. The country’s high reliance on external borrowing has put it in jeopardy of being dependent on foreign funding.
Malawi – GDP Per Capita $1,568
Surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Malawi is a landlocked country. It is among the poorest countries in Africa and the world at large. The majority of the people living in Malawi are impoverished.
Gambia – GDP Per Capita $750
With a population of over 2.56 million people, Gambia’s low GDP per capita has contributed to its rating as one of the poorest countries in Africa.
Rwanda – GDP Per Capita $870
Out of a total GDP of $11.07 billion, Rwanda has a GDP per capita of $870 with a population of above 12.94 million people. Like the Gambia, the economy of Rwanda dropped drastically as a result of the negative impact of the 2020 pandemic.
South Sudan’s persistent civil war in the struggle for independence contributed to the country’s poor state of the economy today. While it got its independence in 2011, South Sudan is still underdeveloped in areas of technological advancement and industrialization. According to World Bank, 82% of the people living in the country live in poverty.
80 percent of the people living in sierra Leone, particularly in the North region, live in poverty. The country has a low productivity rate and mostly depends on foreign aid.
Eritrea’s GDP is projected at $5.60 billion. Over 60 percent of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty.
What Causes Poverty in Africa?
Cause of poverty in Africa vary from high population, political instability to corruption. Let us look at these causes in details:
Adoption of family planning methods are not widespread in Africa as they are in other continents. As a result, the African population continues to grow at an alarming rate. This makes it challenging to match economic growth and development to the growing population. Therefore, more and more Africans continue to languish in poverty. According to a recent report by UNICEF, the African population will double to two billion by 2050.
War and Crisis
Out of the world’s 20 war-related clashes in 2013, 11 were fought on the African continent, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. These include the wars in Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In these crisis regions, agricultural production often comes to a standstill. Several people flee or are expelled forcibly from their homes, rendering them dependent on outside help. African poverty is rising as a result of these wars.
Climatic conditions in the African continent have had a significant impact on people over the recent decades. People have suffered due to climate change such as extreme drought and devastating floods that cause crop failures, and habitat loss. Consequently, regular hunger crises and famine are experienced in Africa, particularly in East Africa and Sahel region.
Diseases such as malaria, Ebola, and AIDs are the cause as well as the result of poverty in Africa. Inadequate medical care and lack of education in many African regions mean that diseases spread faster and cannot be easily treated. Ultimately, the average life expectancy of the African population is decreasing while the number of orphans is growing. Reduced life expectancy results in loss of about which is particularly noticeable in agriculture, which in turn leads to decreased food production.
Inadequate Agricultural Infrastructure
Irrigation systems, agricultural machinery, wells, agriculture, and roads in many African regions lack expertise and expertise, making it difficult for Africa to attain its optimal potential.
Unjust Trade Structures
Wealthy countries establish unjust trading networks by shielding their markets with high tariffs on agriculture and subsidizing their own agriculture heavily. This deteriorates the development of agriculture in Africa. Consequently, these countries contribute to poverty in Africa.