Africa’s biggest economies

Africa’s strongest economies are set to show strong growth over the next few years, as the underdog continent increases its contribution to the world’s total output – while IMF projections remain quite positive about South Africa’s economic prospects.

According the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2014 World Economic Outlook report, the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 stood at approximately $73.98 trillion.

The IMF expects total global output (real GDP) to increase by 3.6% in 2014 to US$76.8 trillion, with an annual growth rate of just under 4% to follow through to 2019 to reach just over US$100.8 trillion.

Of the world’s total GDP, North Africa (and the Middle East) and Sub-Saharan Africa contribute US$3.13 trillion and US$1.32 trillion, respectively, reflecting 6.0% of the global GDP.

These figures are projected to hit US$4.4 trillion and US$2.0 trillion for Northern and Southern Africa, respectively, by 2019 – reflecting a 6.3% contribution to the global total.

Africa’s power players

Looking at Africa, there has only been one real shift amongst the continent’s largest economies, namely the rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP measure year to 2010, pushing the country’s total GDP contribution above former leading economy, South Africa.

The World Bank has retro-actively applied the rebasing in its data, showing that Nigera’s GDP contribution for 2012 jumped from US$248.9 billion to US$459.6 billion under the new calculation.

Despite the slip to second place, South Africa still remains the top of the pile in terms of GDP per capita – US$11,259 versus Nigeria’s US$2,831 and Egypt’s US$6,578.

Top 10 African economies by GDP

# Country GDP
1 Nigeria $459.6 billion
2 South Africa $384.3 billion
3 Egypt $262.8 billion
4 Algeria $205.8 billion
5 Angola $114.1 billion
6 Morocco $96.0 billion
7 Libya $77.6 billion
8 Sudan $58.7 billion
9 Tunisia $45.6 billion
10 Ghana $40.7 billion

World Bank Data, 2012

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook for 2014, Africa’s top 10 economies are set for moderate to high growth through to 2016 – even South Africa, which is projected to lift up from its damp performance to as high as 3.2% in 2016.

In 2012, the IMF’s projections pointed to a similar growth rate (3.4%) for South Africa 2013, but the reality – fed by turbulence in the South African mining sector and the weak performance of the rand, amongst other factors – caused that number to slip to 1.9%.

Africa’s new economic leader, Nigeria, is expected to see some of the highest, continuous growth on the continent – while Libya, fresh out of a turbulent political shift, is projected to seesaw.

Top 10 African economies growth projections 2012-2016

Country 2012 2013 2014* 2015* 2016*
Nigeria 6.6% 6.3% 7.1% 7.0% 6.9%
South Africa 2.5% 1.9% 2.3% 2.7% 3.2%
Egypt 2.2% 2.1% 2.3% 4.1% 4.1%
Algeria 3.3% 2.7% 4.3% 4.1% 4.3%
Angola 5.2% 4.0% 5.3% 5.5% 5.9%
Morocco 2.7% 4.5% 3.9% 4.9% 5.2%
Libya 104.5% -9.4% -7.8% 29.8% 25.5%
Sudan -3.0% 3.4% 2.7% 4.6% 6.1%
Tunisia 3.6% 2.7% 3.0% 4.5% 4.5%
Ghana 7.9% 5.5% 4.8% 5.4% 8.1%

* IMF projections

Taking the IMF’s outlook for the next three years and projecting it against GDP data from the World Bank, it shows that the outlook for Africa’s top economies will not yield much change on the continent.

Nigeria’s rebased GDP contribution looks set to keep climbing towards US$600 billion by 2016, stretching to a potential US$727.4 billion by 2019.

Despite slow growth projected for South Africa, it is expected to stay as the second largest GDP contributor on the continent, climbing, slowly, to US$424.6 billion by 2016, and to US$464 billion by 2019.

Top 10 African economies by projected GDP (US$ billions)

Country 2012 2013 2014* 2015* 2016*
Nigeria 459.6 488.6 523.3 559.9 598.5
South Africa 384.3 391.6 400.6 411.4 424.6
Egypt 262.8 268.4 274.5 285.8 297.5
Algeria 205.8 211.3 220.4 229.5 239.3
Angola 114.1 118.7 125.0 131.9 139.6
Morocco 96.0 100.3 104.2 109.3 115.0
Libya 77.6 70.3 64.8 84.1 105.5
Sudan 58.7 60.8 62.4 65.3 69.3
Tunisia 45.6 46.9 48.3 50.5 52.7
Ghana 40.7 42.9 45.0 47.4 51.3

* IMF projections

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Africa’s biggest economies