African nations are fueled by natural resources that are essential for driving economic growth and developments in the countries and the entire continents. However, despite being blessed with abundant natural resources, many of these African countries continue to struggle with poverty and underdevelopment.
In this article, we will explore seven African countries that possess significant natural resources, including oil, minerals, and agricultural products, but have been unable to fully capitalise on them. Despite having vast natural resources such as oil, diamonds, minerals, and fertile land, these countries remain among the poorest in the world.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and is one of the world’s top oil exporters. The country has a GDP of $440.8 billion, but unfortunately, more than 63% of Nigerians still live in multidimensional poverty.
The country has a literacy rate of 62.02%, with about 55% of the population having access to the internet.
Nigeria’s natural resources include oil, natural gas, coal, tin, iron ore, limestone, and other minerals. However, despite its wealth of resources, Nigeria faces significant economic and social challenges that have resulted in high levels of poverty and inequality. The country has struggled with corruption, poor infrastructure, and security challenges, which have hindered economic growth and development.
Another country with rich natural resources but has continued to be underdeveloped is Angola. Angola is the second-largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest exporter of crude petroleum in the world. The country has other resources which include copper, platinum and other minerals.
However despite its abundant natural resources, Angola has a poverty rate of 32% with 18 percent in urban areas and 54% in the less densely populated rural areas. As of 2021, the country’s GDP is estimated to be $67.4 billion.
Angola has struggled with political instability, corruption, and an inability to diversify its economy, which has affected its ability to fully capitalize on its natural resources.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources. The country’s unutilized deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of $24 trillion.
The country’s natural resources include timber, oil and gas, gold and diamonds, as well as minerals like cobalt and copper.
With these vast natural resources which the country is yet to exploit, DRC still remains one of the poorest countries in Africa, as well as having one of the lowest GDP which is estimated to be $55.35 billion.
Zambia is one of the world’s top copper producers and is ranked the seventh largest copper producer in the world.The landlocked country also has significant reserves of cobalt, nickel, and manganese.
However, Zambia’s abundance of natural resources has not kept the country away from being poor. The country’s GDP is currently estimated to be $22.15 billion leaving over 54% of the population in poverty.
Zambia’s heavy reliance on copper exports, which account for over 70% of the country’s export earnings as well as the country struggling to diversify its economy and develop other sectors, has contributed to its underdevelopment.
Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest reserves of platinum after Russia and South Africa.Aside its strong agricultural sector, it also mines nickel, chrome, lithium, coal, diamond, and gold as its top minerals.
The country’s natural resources have not influenced the growth of the country as its GDP is currently estimated to be $28.37 billion with over 38% poverty rate.
The country’s inability to prosper economically has been associated with corruption, mismanagement of funds and several other social and political challenges which has also caused brain drain, where skilled workers leave for better opportunities elsewhere.
The Republic of Sudan is the third-largest gold producer in Africa with a total of 18 tons and 637 kg produced last year. The country’s other natural resources include gold, uranium, chromite, gypsum, mica, marble, iron ore and fertile agricultural land.
The country’s abundance of natural resources has not contributed to its economic prosperity as the country is in dire poverty which is associated with corruption and mismanagement of funds For instance, despite its great hydroelectric potential, only a small percentage of Sudan’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric plants.
Sudan is an example of being a rich country on paper but super poor in reality with its GDP estimated to be $34.33 billion with over 36 percent of its population living in poverty with limited access to healthcare, education, and basic necessities.
South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa and also rich in natural resources, including minerals like gold, platinum, and diamonds, and also has a strong agricultural sector.
The country has a GDP of $419 billion, but over 55% of the population is living in poverty and 25% of the population are experiencing food poverty.
South Africa also has one of the highest levels of income inequality in Africa and the world, that is wealth and income are highly concentrated in the hands of a few, while the majority of the population struggles to make ends meet.
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