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Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt constitute half of Africa’s $2.7trn economy



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In 2021, the economies of three countries – Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt – make up about half of Africa’s economic output measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in nominal terms.

The three countries contribute up to 49.5 per cent (approximately 50 per cent) of Africa’s economy, with Nigeria contributing 18.4 per cent, South Africa 15.9 per cent, and Egypt having a share of about 15.2 per cent of the $2.7 trillion economy.

Nigeria sits at the top of the African economy, in terms of nominal GDP in 2021, making up 18.4 per cent of the continent’s $2.7 trillion economy.


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Nigeria’s GDP, which measures how much a country produces in financial terms within a year, grew by 11.89 per cent from 2020 to 2021.

Data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed that it went from $429.423 billion in 2020 to $480.482 billion in 2021, making the country the highest contributor to Africa’s economic output/ GDP and the 29th in the world.

Nigeria’s top exports include: crude petroleum, petroleum gas, scrap vessels, flexible metal tubing and cocoa beans, according to data gathered by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

South Africa’s largest exports are platinum, iron ore, gold, coal briquettes and citrus, while Egypt exports crude petroleum, refined petroleum, gold, petroleum gas and nitrogenous fertilizers.

Libya ranks 18th in Africa’s GDP and has experienced a 42.1 per cent growth - the biggest GDP growth on the IMF list - from $335.344 billion in 2020 to $415.315 billion in 2021.

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Following this growth trend is Equatorial Guinea (24.83 per cent), Lesotho (23.96 per cent), South Africa (23.85 per cent), Republic of Congo (23.38 per cent) and Angola (20.5 per cent).

The exportation of crude petroleum fuels Libya’s growth. With 2.8 per cent share of global reserves and 48 million barrels, it is home to the highest oil reserve in Africa.

The countries in Africa with the slowest economic growth had decreases in their output, as Ethiopia had a -3.99 per cent growth and South Sudan had a -26.51 per cent, making them African countries with least growth.

Ethiopia exports coffee mostly, followed by other oily seeds, gold, cut flowers and zinc ore. However, the coffee-rich country is embroiled in a civil war that has slowed its economic progress and engendered dire predictions of its GDP growth from the IMF.

South Sudan is an oil-dependent country, a resource that accounts for more than 70 per cent of its GDP and more than 90 per cent of global revenue, according to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

As global prices fell, South Sudan’s economy suffered, while the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the service sectors.

Head of Data Unit, International Centre For Investigative Reporting, ICIR.
Shoot me a mail at [email protected]

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