Africa is the poorest continent with 22 of the 26 low-income economies as per the World Bank.
Burundi is the poorest country not only in Africa but also in the world, with Somalia close behind.
In 2020, Luxembourg's GDP per capita (PPP) of $118,356 (the world's highest) was over 150 times that of Burundi's $771.
Africa is the poorest continent on Earth. Moreover, the competition is not particularly close. Economic insecurity, political instability and corruption, civil wars, and terrorist insurrections have left millions of Africans living in abject poverty. Out of 26 countries ranked by the World Bank as low income economies, 22 are in Africa. These rankings refer to the very poorest countries in the world. Africa also includes 23 of the world's 54 lower middle income countries.
Two metrics often used to determine the wealth of a country are its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and gross national income (GNI) per capita. GDP per capita measures the total value of all the goods and services produced by a country, then divides by the number of people in that country. GNI per capita is similar, but also includes any income from international sources, such as overseas investments or business dealings. GDP and GNI are typically expressed in either U.S. dollars (US$) or purchasing power parity (PPP) "international dollars" (int.$), a hypothetical currency that makes country-to-country comparisons easier. Both metrics are excellent indicators of how affluent—or in this instance, how destitute—a country is.
PPP (int) 🔼
|Central African Republic||$1,020|
*For comparison: United States ($63,544)
Atlas Method 🔼
|Central African Republic||$480|
Based on the per capita GDP and GNI values from 2020, Burundi ranks as the poorest country in not only Africa, but also the world. The second-poorest country in Africa, Somalia, holds the same distinction. In fact, this pattern carries through much of the list. With the lone exception of the Asian country Afghanistan, whose GNI per capita of $500 would place it at #6 on the second list, Africa's 10 poorest countries are also statistically the world's 10 poorest. To be fair, this ranking comes with one significant caveat: it is possible that additional non-African countries—particularly North Korea, Syria, and/or Yemen—would appear in the bottom 10 if they openly shared their GDP/GNI data, but they typically decline to do so. That said, African countries would still take up the majority of the list.
It can be difficult to grasp the scale of Africa's economic challenges when viewing the numbers in a vacuum. The GDP values of the wealthiest countries in the world can add perspective. According to 2020 data, the country with the highest GDP per capita (PPP int.$) is Luxembourg, with a value of $118,356—which is more than 150 times higher than Burundi's $771. Similarly, Norway's world-leading 2020 GNI per capita (Atlas Method, current US$) of $78,250 seems almost modest; however, when compared to Burundi's $270, it is evident that it's a full 289 times higher. Africa's economic situation may not always be so bleak. A few African countries have seen significant economic growth and development over the past two decades. If this progress can be sustained and expanded, many Africans may realize a more promising economic future. The table below contains a full list of Africa's countries and their 2020 GNIs per capita (Atlas Method, current US$).
The main sources of data used in this article - International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - provide comprehensive yet not exhaustive or definitive data on African countries. Thus, reports on some countries must rely on expert estimates.
|Central African Republic||$1,020||2022||$480||2022|
|Republic of the Congo||$3,520||2022||$2,060||2022|
|Sao Tome and Principe||$4,770||2022||$2,410||2022|
The poorest country in Africa is Burundi.