What’s driving Africa’s strongest economies?

What’s driving Africa’s strongest economies?


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The five biggest economies in Africa are overwhelmingly powered by the export of natural resources.  But too often, corruption and mismanagement means the wealth generated doesn’t benefit the people who live there. 

These infographics show exactly what’s driving these economies, and reveal why ONE is campaigning for improved transparency in the global oil and mineral extractives industries.

 1. Nigeria

Minerals have been deemed both a blessing and a curse for many of Africa’s largest exporters.

Nigeria, which recently overtook South Africa as the continent’s largest economy, owes over 78% of its export success to crude petroleum, and other large percentages to petroleum gas and refined petroleum. While the discovery of natural resources often results in considerable revenue inflows, these are sometimes linked to increasing economic inequality, corruption, shady foreign businesses, government neglect of other sectors, and economic stagnation.

2. South Africa

Compared to Nigeria, South Africa has a much more diverse set of exports. Gold, platinum, and diamonds have the highest share of export revenues, followed by regular metals, machines, and then chemical products. As the African nation with the most established industries, it makes sense that South Africa’s exports are comprised of a more diverse set of goods.

3. Angola

If you’re looking for a classic example of a single-export country, look no further.

97.5% of Angola’s exports consist of crude petroleum, which unquestionably leaves the country vulnerable to financials shocks. If there were to be a severe drop in the global market price of petroleum, or if Angola was suddenly unable to export the same quantities, we could expect the entire economy to suffer dramatically.

4. Sudan

Sudan’s export map is similar to most nations that are at risk of falling victim to the resource curse.

5. Ghana

Like South Africa, Ghana makes the most export revenue from gold. Cocoa is a major export crop, and it has a fairly diverse profile that also includes minerals, vegetables, plastics and rubber, wood, and metals.

ONE members have already helped change important laws in Europe and the US which require oil, gas, mining and logging companies to publish the payments they make to governments, but there’s still much more to do.

Look out for a big new campaign launching next month!

Thanks to the Observatory of Economic Complexity for creating these interactive graphics.

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