Africa, as a continent, comprises a huge 54 sovereign states. According to the IMF, Africa is the poorest continent in the world – despite containing a fifth of the total population of our little planet. Despite this, as a continent, Africa’s economy has grown over the last few years. While the rest of the world went through an economic crisis, Africa was something of a “little engine that could”, quietly chugging along at a respectable pace and increasing its total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) annually since the recession hit six years ago. Indeed, the economy of Africa grew by 5% in 2012 while the rest of the world was in the grips of economic recovery.
The secret to Africa’s recent comparative success seems to be its vast amount of natural resources. Everything from cotton to gold to diamonds can be found around the continent. Why has Africa been the poorest continent throughout the years, then? Well, there are countless reports, theories and debates on this topic: Some blame the IMF’s influence and the countries’ crippling debts; others blame large companies for stripping African countries of their natural resources for astonishing profits.
The plight of Africa has been captured in many articles, reports and documentaries but the simple fact is that the majority of Western scholars would struggle to name the top five wealthiest African countries – so focused are we on the poverty. On that note, and in an attempt to focus on the positive, here are the top ten richest countries in Africa. This list uses the GDP at Purchasing Power Parity, as per the CIA World Factbook in 2012, to rank these African countries by wealth.
10 Libya GDP (PPP): $76.52 billion
Libya has dominated our headlines worldwide for the past few years, with their civil war and its aftermath, which has resulted in ongoing violence. What is perhaps less reported in the mainstream media is the booming Libyan economy. Libya’s main economic saviour is a little thing called oil: While the revolution massively impacted on the country’s oil production, 2012 saw Libyans return to their pre-violence levels – an unbelievable 1.6 million barrels of oil per day! This was a significant year for the Libyan economy. Though the political instability remained, 2012 saw Libya increase their gross domestic product by an astonishing 122%.
According to the IMF, Libya’s GDP took an almost 60% plunge into negative figures in 2011, before the 2012 rebound. Oil accounts for 80% of the country’s GDP and 97% of all exports, so it’s a hugely important aspect of this country’s economy. We can’t help but wonder; if it were not for the current political instability, how much further up our list would this country be?