A developed country is one that boasts features such as a developed economy, a stable and functional government, a robust infrastructure, a strong educational system, ample job opportunities, comprehensive health and social services, and a high degree of personal freedom.
Countries that fall slightly short of these goals are classified as developing countries. Those that fall far short are designated the least developed countries and become eligible for specific United Nations assistance programs.
The most widely used and respected measure of a country's development status is the United Nations' annual Human Development Index (HDI). This advanced metric tracks a wide range of indicators, from Adult Literacy Rate and Life Expectancy to Income Inequality and Mobile Phone Subscriptions, then compiles them all into a number between 0.00 and 1.00. This score slots each country into one of four different classifications:
The Four Levels of the Human Development Index (HDI)
- Low human development (0-.55)
- Medium human development (.55-.70)
- High human development (.70-80)
- Very high human development (.80-1.0)
Most developed countries have a score of at least .80 and are considered "very high human development." That said, Africa is the least-developed continent outside of Antarctica, with many of its countries still mired in issues including poverty, government corruption, and armed conflict.
As of the 2020 HDI, only one of Africa's 54 countries, Mauritius, is considered to have "very high human development." On the bright side, eight African countries have "high human development", and could reach the Very High plateau soon.
Top 10 Most Developed Countries in Africa - 2020 HDI
- Mauritius - .804 (Very High)
- Seychelles - .796 (High)
- Algeria - .748 (High)
- Tunisia - .740 (High)
- Botswana - .735 (High)
- Libya - .724 (High)
- South Africa - .709 (High)
- Egypt - .707 (High)
- Gabon - .703 (High)
- Morocco - .686 (Medium)
The island country of Mauritius is Africa's most developed country with an HDI of .804, which just clears the "very high human development" threshold. Mauritius boasts a life expectancy of 75 years and a literacy rate of 91.3%, and is known for its advanced economy and free heath care and schooling. Globally, Mauritius still ranks 66th out of 189 countries examined, which illustrates the gap between Africa and the other continents, but other African countries can draw inspiration from the country's success.
Seychelles (7.96) lands right behind Mauritius in 67th place. The country's economic growth is mainly driven by tourism, and the GDP has increased nearly sevenfold since 1976. Algeria has an HDI score of .748 and is the third most developed country in Africa. Algeria currently has the highest life expectancy of all African countries of 76.3 years.
To see each African country's Human Development Index score, check the table below.