50 Things You Didn't Know About Africa

Latest Issue: 
  • 2012-2013


The Africa Development Indicators 2012/2013 is an annual report which provides the most recent, detailed, data on development in Africa. It contains macroeconomic, sectoral, and social indicators, covering 53 African countries with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The ADI is designed to provide all those interested in Africa with a focused and convenient set of data to monitor development programs and aid to the region, providing an invaluable reference tool for analysts and policy makers who want a better understanding of the economic and social developments occurring in Africa. 

The data revealed several interesting development facts and trends about Sub-Sharan African countries. Discover 50 things you didn't know about Africa: 


  • Nigeria has the largest population in Sub-Saharan Africa (158.4 million people) and accounts for 19% of the continent’s total population.
  • South Africa’s and Nigeria’s GDP in nominal prices comprised about 50% of total SSA’s GDP.
  • SSA GDP growth was 5%. Chad, Liberia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe had the largest growth at 13%, 10.3%, 9.9% and 9% respectively by rank. Twenty-six of the 48 SSA countries had a growth of over 5% for the same period.
  • South Africa has SSA’s largest real GDP ($187 billion); the smallest is Guinea Bissau ($244 million).
  • The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of the richest Sub-Saharan African country (Equatorial Guinea) is 76 times larger than the GNI per capita of the poorest (Democratic Republic of Congo.).
  • The total GDP per capita of the richest 10 African countries was 22.6 times of the poorest 10. The ten richest by order are Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Gabon, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Cape Verde, Swaziland and Angola while the ten poorest by rank are Congo Democratic Republic, Burundi, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Malawi, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Madagascar and Liberia.
  • Between 1990 and 1999 PPP GNI per capita growth was 15% ($1,176.3 to $1,357.2) for Sub-Saharan Africa; and between 2000 and 2010 it was 63% ($1,403.4 to $2,288.7).
  • SSA experienced an increase in both exports and imports. Exports increased from $300 billion in 2009 to $375 billion in 2010, a 25% increase; while imports increased from $330 billion in 2008 to $379 billion in 2010, a 15% increase.
  • In 21% of Sub-Saharan African countries, one or two products accounts for at least 75% of total exports.
  • The largest recipient of net official development assistance (ODA) in Sub-Saharan Africa received an amount 72 times larger than the smallest recipient. The largest recipient is Democratic Republic of Congo (US $3,543 million), and the smallest is São Tomé and Príncipe (US $49 million).
  • In 3 countries by rank, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Togo, the agriculture value-added as percentage of GDP was over forty percent (49%, 48%, and 43%, respectively); in South Africa it is lowest at 2.5%.
  • In 2009, South Africa utilizes the most electric power per person (4,532kW/h); Ethiopia utilizes the least (45 kW/h).
  • Tanzania has the highest proportion of women aged 15-24 in its labor force (81%); Mauritania had the lowest (22%): Equatorial Guinea has the highest proportion of men aged 15-24 in its labor force (88%); Gabon has the lowest (27%).
  • 27 countries have their female participation rates higher than the SSA average (64.3 percent). Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda have higher female participation rates than male. Mauritania and Sudan have the lowest women participation rates (29 and 32 respectively). 

Well Being

  • In 2009, HIV/AIDS caused the death of 310,000 adults and children in South Africa, and less than 1,000 in Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritania, and Mauritius respectively.
  • Flows of international development assistance to Sub-Saharan African countries to fight HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases increased by 14.5% from 2009 to 2010; US $3,887.6 in 2009 to US $ 4,450 in 2010.
  • In the decade (2000-2010) Liberia and Rwanda have made the greatest gains in life expectancy: 10 and 9 years respectively. Conversely, life expectancy has decreased in 3 countries namely, South Africa (3 years), Swaziland (0.3 years) and Lesotho (0.2 years).
  • In 2009 Equatorial Guinea had the highest adult literacy rate (93%); Chad had the lowest (34%).
  • In 2009, Lesotho had 95% of women literate; compared to the lowest the figure of 23% for Chad.
  • Seychelles has the highest gross enrolment rate in secondary education (119%); Central African Republic has the lowest (13%).
  • In Seychelles there are 13 children per primary school teacher; there are almost 84 in Central African Republic.
  • The number of clinical cases of malaria reported in Sub-Saharan Africa decreased by almost 1% between 2009 and 2010, while the number of reported deaths due to malaria increased by 15% during the same period.
  • Sierra Leone had the highest increase in reported deaths due to malaria from 2009 to 2010 (1,734 to 8,188); the highest decrease is in Côte d’Ivoire (18,156 to 1,023).
  • The literacy rate among youth (15-24) in Gambia went up by 19% in 10 years, from 52.6% in 2000 to 65.5% in 2010.
  • Infant mortality declined in almost all countries during 1990-2010. The largest decline was in Madagascar and Malawi, by 56%.
  • The average number of children per woman in Sub- Saharan Africa decreased from 6 in 1990 to 5 in 2010. Seven (7) countries (Burundi, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Namibia, Swaziland, and Togo) had the average number per women decline by 2.


  • The highest connection charge for a business phone is $355 in Benin; the lowest is in Mozambique at $14. Benin had the highest connection charge ($195) for a residential phone.
  • For fixed broadband Internet, the highest connection charge is $2,371.7 in Guinea; the lowest is in Madagascar and Nigeria.
  • The countries with the highest and lowest number of mobile phones per 1,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa were Seychelles with 1359 mobile phones per 1,000 people and Eritrea 35 per 1,000 people, respectively.
  • For the period 2000-09, the ratio of paved roads to total roads was the highest in Mauritius (98%); and lowest in Chad (less than 1%).
  • In 2011, to start a business required 160 days for each procedure in Congo, Republic; it took three days in Rwanda. In Guinea-Bissau the number of days reduced from 216 in 2010 to 9 in 2011.
  • In 2011, Guinea-Bissau had the highest number of procedures to enforce contracts (1,715); Rwanda had the lowest at 230.
  • It takes 18 days average time to clear customs on direct exports in Democratic Republic of Congo and 6.2 days in Botswana; conversely for imports it takes 45.4 days in Democratic Republic of Congo and 3.7 days in Botswana.

Tracking MDGs and IDA

  • The primary school completion rate for ten Sub- Saharan countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Cape Verde, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, and Togo) more than doubled between 1990 and 2010. (MDG 2)
  • The lowest net primary enrolment ratio is found in Eritrea (34%); the highest is in Rwanda (99%). (MDG 2)
  • In 2009 youth literacy (ages 15-24) is highest in Zimbabwe at 99% and lowest in Chad at 46%. (MDG 2)
  • Rwanda has the highest number of women in national parliament with 56% of total seats. Comoros has the lowest with 3%. (MDG 3)
  • In Sierra Leone 114 out of 1,000 children die before the age of one; in Seychelles the rate is 12 per 1,000. (MDG 4)
  • In Somalia 180 children per 1,000 die before the age of five; in Seychelles, the rate is 14 per 1,000 and 15 per 1,000 in Mauritius. (MDG 4, IDA 2)
  • Sixteen (16) countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have child immunization rate for measles of over 90%. The highest in Eritrea, Mauritius and Seychelles at 99% respectively while the lowest in Chad and Somalia at 46%, respectively. (MDG 4)
  • For the period 2000-10, skilled personnel attended 6% of births in Ethiopia; they attended 99% of births in Mauritius. (MDG 5, IDA 4)
  • Only 3 countries (Mauritius 60, Sao Tome and Principe 70 and Cape Verde 79), have maternal mortality rates (modeled) less than 100 per 100,000 live births. Conversely, Chad has the highest rate at 1,100 per 100,000 live births. (MDG 5)
  • Contraceptive use (any method) is highest in Mauritius at 76%; lowest is Chad at 5% for the period 2000-10. (MDG 6)
  • For the period 2000-10, in Mali and Rwanda, 70% of children under age 5 slept under insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria; they were 1% in Equatorial Guinea and Swaziland. (MDG 6)
  • Only 23% of the rural population of Sub-Saharan Africa has access to improved sanitation compared to 42% of the urban population.
  • Seychelles had the highest percentage of forest area with 89%, whilst Mauritania had the lowest at less than 0.2%. (MDG 7)
  • In 2008, South Africa had the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita of 8.9 metric tons, whilst Burundi had the lowest of 0.02 metric tons. (MDG 7)
  • In Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Niger 1 persons per 100 are internet users; there are 41 in every 100 people in Seychelles. (MDG 8).
  • Incidence of tuberculosis per 100,000 people was highest in Swaziland (1,287 per 100,000 people). This was 58.5 times higher than the lowest (Mauritius at 22 per 100,000 people). (MDG 6)