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Insight & Analysis - May 26, 2022

7 African Countries with the Highest Unemployment Rate

The economic recession across African countries has worsened the state of unemployment. 

As such, the number of graduates annually exceeds the ratio of available employment.

According to the African Development Bank report, 10 to 12 million people enter the workforce annually in Africa, but only 3 million formal employment opportunities are established each year.

Also, as of last year, unemployment on the continent was 10.6%. Despite having the world’s lowest unemployment rate on paper, the majority work informally and are underemployed.

According to the World Bank data, here are African countries with the highest unemployment rate.

South Africa

South Africa’s unemployment rate grew from 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021 to 35.30% in the fourth quarter. This indicated an increase as the country in 2020 had a 29.2% unemployment rate.

In the country, the unemployment rate among Black South Africans reached 39.1% in 2021, indicating a 2.6% year-on-year increase compared to 2020.

In 2021, the unemployment rate among White South Africans increased to 8.8%, among the coloured South Africans – 29.8% and 27.5% for Indian/Asian South Africans.


In 2021, the unemployment rate in Eswatini increased to 25.8% from 25.5% in 2020.

From the trading economics data, the country ranked 11th out of 94 countries and fourth in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in terms of the unemployment rate, 

With a population of 1.2 million, Eswatini is a country enclosed by land in Southern Africa bordering South Africa and Mozambique.


Despite government efforts to address unemployment in the country, the unemployment rate continues to rise.

Botswana’s unemployment rate fell to 16.2% in 2009 before rising to 24.7% in 2021. From 23.2% in the first quarter of 2020, it increased to 24.5% in the fourth quarter of the same year. It rose by 1.3%.


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Lesotho’s unemployment rate remained constant at 24.6% in 2020 and 2021. Since 2002, when the unemployment rate reached 33.63%, the country’s unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing.


Gabon’s unemployment rate was 22.3% in 2021. Gabon’s unemployment rate rose from 17.2% in 2002 to 22.3% in 2021, expanding at 1.40% annually.

Congo Republic

Central Africa is home to the Republic of Congo. Its 5.7 million residents are primarily youthful, with 47% under the age of 18 with an unemployment rate of 23.0%.

Moreover, half of the population lives in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, the country’s two largest cities.


Namibia’s unemployment rate was 21.7%. This rate has varied significantly in recent years, although it has tended to drop from 2002 to 2021, ending at 21.7% in 2021.


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