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Nigeria retains position as largest African economy for five consecutive years

Nigeria has maintained its position as the largest economy in Africa for the fifth consecutive year, with a nominal GDP of $477.4 billion in 2022. This accounts for 17.4% of the continent’s economy, which was valued at $2.7 trillion in the same year, according to data released by the World Bank. Since 2018, Nigeria has held the top spot, surpassing South Africa as the largest African economy.

In 2022, Nigeria’s economy experienced significant growth, increasing by 8.3% year over year from the previous year’s GDP of $440.8 billion. Egypt followed closely behind with an estimated GDP of $476.7 billion, registering a growth rate of 12.3% compared to 2021. South Africa held the third position with an estimated GDP of $405.9 billion.

It’s worth noting that the combined GDP of the top three economies on the continent represents nearly half (49.5%) of Africa’s overall economy. Other countries that made it to the list of the top 10 largest economies in Africa include Algeria ($191.9 billion), Ethiopia ($126.8 billion), Kenya ($113.4 billion), Angola ($106.7 billion), Tanzania ($75.7 billion), Ghana ($72.8 billion), and Cote d’Ivoire ($70 billion).

Egypt has been steadily catching up with Nigeria on the list of the largest African economies and, after surpassing South Africa in 2020 as the second-largest economy, it has maintained that position. In 2022, Egypt’s economy expanded by 12.3% to $476.7 billion, almost reaching Nigeria’s level.

In terms of the fastest-growing economies on the continent, Angola topped the list with an impressive growth rate of 62.5%. This growth was largely driven by sustained high oil prices, which averaged $100.65 per barrel in 2022. Sudan followed with a growth rate of 50.9%, while Zambia recorded a growth rate of 34.5% and Guinea came in fourth with a nominal growth rate of 31.9%. Seychelles experienced a growth rate of 23.4% in 2022.

On the contrary, Zimbabwe recorded the highest contraction of 27.1%, with its nominal GDP dropping from $28.4 billion to $20.7 billion. Ghana followed with an 8% contraction, and Sierra Leone’s GDP dipped by 6.6% year-on-year.

Despite facing various challenges such as high inflationary pressure, fiscal deficit, and high debt, Africa’s economy still managed to expand by 3.8% in 2022, reaching $2.7 trillion, up from $2.5 trillion in the previous year.

The African Development Bank projects that Africa will become the second-fastest growing region globally in 2023, second only to Asia, showcasing the resilience of its economy in the face of global shocks. However, achieving this growth relies on both global circumstances and Africa’s ability to enhance its economic resilience, as highlighted in the 2023 African Economic Outlook report by the African Development Bank. The report predicts a 4.3% increase in GDP growth in 2024, up from 3.8% in 2022, and identifies 22 countries expected to achieve growth rates exceeding 5%. To ensure this growth, robust policy actions are recommended, including incentivizing green industries and providing guarantees to de-risk private sector investments in managing natural capital across the continent.

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