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Poorest Countries in Africa 2024

Snapshot

  • 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.

The 10 Poorest Countries in Africa (by 2020 GDP per capita, PPP, current int.$):*

Country
PPP (int)
Burundi$840
Central African Republic$1,020
DR Congo$1,280
Somalia$1,360
Mozambique$1,410
Niger$1,510
Liberia$1,620
Chad$1,640
Malawi$1,700
Madagascar$1,720

*For comparison: United States ($63,544)

The 10 Poorest Countries in Africa (by 2020 GNI per capita, Atlas Method, current US$):**

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.

Source

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.

  • GNI per capita is gross national income (GNI) divided by mid-year population. GNI is the gross domestic product (GDP) plus net primary income from abroad. GDP is the sum of the value of all goods and services rendered by a country's residents.
  • PPP GNI is gross national income converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar is a theoretical monetary unit that has the same purchasing power over GNI as a U.S. dollar in the United States.

Download Table Data

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Country
Per Capita (IMF '24)
Per Capita (UN '21)
PPP (int)
Atlas Method
Burundi$226$297$840$240
Central African Republic$475$405$1,020$480
Sierra Leone$508$388$1,900$510
Malawi$523$585$1,700$640
Madagascar$530$482$1,720$510
Sudan$544$744$4,150$760
South Sudan$578$409
Mozambique$659$528$1,410$500
Niger$666$546$1,510$610
Somalia$684$557$1,360$470
DR Congo$698$592$1,280$590
Liberia$859$590$1,620$680
Mali$902$784$2,420$850
Burkina Faso$919$804$2,400$840
Gambia$948$785$2,470$810
Rwanda$950$924$2,730$930
Guinea Bissau$979$717$2,220$820
Chad$992$891$1,640$690
Lesotho$1,017$971$3,160$1,260
Togo$1,062$873$2,610$990
Nigeria$1,103$2,073$5,650$2,140
Uganda$1,128$966$2,650$930
Tanzania$1,147$3,040$1,200
Zambia$1,413$1,379$3,680$1,170
Benin$1,518$1,236$4,020$1,400
Ethiopia$1,581$917$2,800$1,020
Comoros$1,639$1,437$3,850$1,610
Guinea$1,751$1,435$2,840$1,180
Cameroon$1,810$1,509$5,080$1,660
Kenya$1,850$2,018$5,680$2,170
Senegal$1,945$1,524$4,100$1,640
Zimbabwe$2,021$1,552$2,460$1,500
Mauritania$2,128$2,202$6,330$2,160
Ghana$2,164$2,121$6,380$2,350
Angola$2,437$2,997$6,450$1,900
Republic of the Congo$2,482$2,457$3,520$2,060
Ivory Coast$2,936$2,365$6,330$2,620
Egypt$3,036$3,575$14,590$4,100
Sao Tome and Principe$3,177$2,313$4,770$2,410
Djibouti$3,787$3,474$5,780$3,180
Morocco$3,988$3,426$9,390$3,710
Eswatini$4,161$3,541$9,920$3,800
Tunisia$4,354$3,675$12,160$3,840
Cape Verde$4,497$3,830$8,970$4,140
Namibia$4,825$4,765$10,890$4,880
Algeria$5,765$4,147$12,930$3,900
Equatorial Guinea$6,101$6,705$12,850$5,320
South Africa$6,117$6,642$15,570$6,780
Libya$6,924$5,821$23,590$7,260
Botswana$7,875$7,483$17,590$7,350
Gabon$8,457$8,103$14,880$7,540
Mauritius$12,565$9,907$27,480$10,760
Seychelles$20,349$18,426$33,480$14,340
Eritrea$624
showing: 54 rows

What is the poorest country in Africa?

Burundi is the poorest country in Africa, with a GNI(PPP) of $840.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources