Africa is not a uniformly developed economic area, but is characterized by strong differences in natural resources and in political and social structures, which prevent coherent and coordinated economic development. The level of economic development in the individual countries is very different. While the Republic of South Africa is the only one of the 54 African countries to be largely industrialized and most of the resource-rich North African countries (see countryaah.com) are advanced developing countries, the majority of African countries (countries south of the Sahara) are among the poorer or poorest developing countries on earth.
Until the beginning of the 19th century, Africa was self-sufficient; only collective goods (wax, palm oil, ivory) as well as gold and salt were traded. The colonial era that began in the second half of the 19th century brought important changes. New crops were grown to supply the growing population (corn, peanuts, tomatoes, rice, bananas, cassava) and for export (cocoa, sisal, rubber, cotton, sugar cane, coffee, tea). Even after the African countries achieved political independence in the second half of the 20th century, Africa remained primarily a food and raw material producer. The continent’s share of global gross national income (GNI) is around 4%, while its share in the world population is around 16%. With an economic growth of (2017) 3, the Agriculture is the most important economic sector, it employs most of the workforce in the countries south of the Sahara, supplies food and export goods and forms an important basis for economic development. The production of agricultural products is increasing due to the expansion of cultivated areas, improvement of production methods, intensification of cultivation methods, training of the workforce and, in some cases, mechanization, but in view of the stable level of population growth (2016: 2.7%), long periods of drought and regional flood disasters as well Due to numerous political conflicts and wars and the resulting flight of large parts of the population, agricultural production in large parts of Africa is insufficient to secure a food base. Come in addition, Cashcrops) is used. The number of undernourished or malnourished people is estimated at hundreds of millions, at least more than a quarter of the African population. More than half of the African countries are dependent on international aid supplies of food.
Africa is one of the world’s largest producers of cassava and millet; For the world market, the continent mainly supplies cocoa, dates, palm oil fruits and coffee. Livestock farming is practiced extensively, especially in the savannahs and grasslands. Large losses in livestock are repeatedly caused by prolonged periods of drought (especially in the Sahel, Ethiopia and Sudan).
The timber industry only plays a major role in a few West African countries (e.g. Republic of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo) (export of tropical hardwoods). The forest stock is decimated not only by this logging, but above all by the growing need for firewood and slash and burn. For example, over 90% of the forests in Madagascar and those in the Republic of Ivory Coast are almost completely cleared.
Africa has very rich natural resources. 2016 included in Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Botswana and Sierra Leone, more than 50% of export earnings depend on mineral resources. The most important mineral resources are (the most important producing countries in brackets): Chromium (South Africa, Zimbabwe); Phosphate (Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Senegal, Togo); Manganese (South Africa, Gabon, Ghana); Bauxite (guinea); Gold (South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, Guinea, Zimbabwe and others); Diamonds (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and others); Uranium (Niger, South Africa, Namibia); Cobalt (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia); Platinum (group metals palladium, platinum and others; South Africa, Zimbabwe); Titanium (rutile and iron ash; South Africa). South Africa also exports synthetic diamonds.
Africa’s oil reserves are estimated at 16.9 billion t (2016). The most important reserves are in Libya (6.3 billion t) and Nigeria (5.0 billion t). The largest producing countries are Nigeria (2016: 98.8 million t), Angola (87.9 million t) and Algeria (68.5 million t). Algeria (2016: 4,500 billion m 3) and Nigeria (5,300 billion m 3) have large natural gas reserves. Algeria produced 91.3 billion m 3 (2016). The coal reserves are mainly concentrated in the Republic of South Africa, which produced 252.1 million t in 2015.
Energy industry: Despite rich deposits of coal, crude oil and natural gas, the availability of fossil fuels in most African countries is relatively low. Firewood still plays the most important role in household energy production. With the exception of one power station in the Republic of South Africa (1,880 MW), nuclear energy is not used. The rich hydropower potential (9.4% of the earth’s economically viable hydroelectric potential) could make up for the relative scarcity of fossil fuels, but it is difficult to exploit. Larger hydropower plants are available in Egypt (Aswan), Mozambique (Cabora Bassa), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Inga), Zimbabwe and Zambia (Kariba), the Republic of South Africa (Oranje), Ghana (Akosombo), Angola (Kunene), Nigeria (Kainji) as well as in Kenya, Uganda, the Republic of Ivory Coast and Guinea. The energy potential of the power plants is rarely fully used and is also fluctuating due to the drought. The dammed water is often used to irrigate the fields.