bird TenX: Service industry looms large in Africa's 10 biggest economies

bird TenX: Service industry looms large in Africa's 10 biggest economies

Most African economies are driven by young populations, fast-growing tech adoption and mineral reserves, while the largest contribution to the top economies mentioned here comes from the services and industry sectors.

Conrad Onyango, bird story agency

As Africa continues to open up the world’s largest single market valued at US$3.4 trillion, its economic prospects are shining bright.

According to the World Bank and Africa Development Bank, Africa is predicted to outperform the rest of the world in economic growth by 2024, becoming the second-fastest growing region after Asia. 

The continent is expected to have an average real gross domestic product (GDP) of around 4% in 2023 and 2024, which is higher than the projected global averages of 2.7% and 3.2%. 

In 2024, these reports show Africa dominates the list of the world's 20 fastest-growing economies, highlighting the economic strength of its countries- driven by significant mineral and petroleum production, tourism, technological innovations, and a growing young population.

 The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), one of the world's largest free trade areas, with a market of 1.4 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion, has made Africa a promising investment destination. 

This too is expected to further shape the economic size and strength of individual countries. 

Below are the giant economies in Africa, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook, October 2023.

1.South Africa

As of October 2023, South Africa ranked as Africa's largest economy with a GDP of US$401 billion. South Africa's position was assisted by a fall in the naira, the currency of what in 2022 had been the continent's largest economy in dollar terms - Nigeria. South Africa's rich mineral resources, well-established industries (including service industries) and growing fruit and wine exports continue to attract global investment. South Africa is the largest producer of platinum and chrome globally and is a significant producer of gold and diamonds. As of 2022, the services sector contributed the largest share (62.61%) to its GDP, followed by industry (24.44%) and agriculture, which contributed approximately 2.57%.


This West African country boasts the second-largest economy on the continent, with a GDP of US$395 billion. While petroleum exports remain a significant contributor to economic growth, the services sector is now the major contributor to GDP, accounting for 44%, followed by industry at 30% and agriculture at 23%. Changes in the economy are propelled by a growing and dynamic tech hub, the highest population in Africa and a rapidly expanding financial sector.  A stabilizing naira will likely see this giant of Africa take its place at the top of the table again, soon.


The North African country’s economy, worth US$358 billion, heavily relies on its tourism industry, headlined by ancient monuments such as the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. The country's strategic location at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East adds to its significance on the continent. This is further complemented by a strong agriculture sector, textiles, oil, and gas. The services sector contributed 51% to its GDP, while industry and agriculture accounted for 32% and 10%, respectively in 2022.


The Algerian economy, valued at US$239 billion, is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry, which makes up 97% of the country's total exports and provides almost two-thirds of government income. In 2022, the services and industry sectors were the largest contributors to GDP, tied at 42% each. Agriculture contributed approximately 11%.


The economy of this populous country, valued at US$192 billion, is one of the fastest growing on the continent. It is famous for its high-quality coffee, rich culture, and national parks, which contribute significantly to its thriving tourism industry. An ongoing economic transformation, opening up to foreign investors is also driving growth in manufacturing and agriculture. Agriculture was the largest contributor to the country's GDP, accounting for 37%, followed by services at 36%, and industry at 22% in 2022.


Morocco's economy, valued at US$157 billion, has been driven by vibrant tourism and agriculture sectors, as well as investments in renewable energy and industrialization. In 2022, the services sector contributed the most to GDP, accounting for 54%, followed by the industry sector at 25%, and agriculture at 10%.


Kenya's economy is worth US$115 billion, with the services sector contributing the most at 55%. Known as Africa's Silicon Savannah, Kenya is the birthplace of the revolutionary mobile money platform, M-Pesa, and is also home to the African headquarters of global tech giants, which amplifies its regional economic influence. The agriculture sector contributed the second highest at 21%, while the industry sector contributed 17%.


Angola's economy, valued at US$93 billion, heavily relies on its oil sector and supporting activities, as well as diamond mining. These industries contribute over 50% of the country's GDP, over 70% of government revenue and over 90% of exports.

9.Cote d’ Ivoire

The US$87 billion economy of this West African Francophone country is fueled by the services sector, which contributed 53% of its GDP in 2022. The industry sector contributed 21%, and 16% came from the agricultural sector. Cote d’Ivoire is the biggest exporter of cocoa and raw cashew nuts in the world. It's also a net exporter of oil and has a significant manufacturing sector. 


Tanzania’s thriving economy is worth US$86 billion, driven by its tourism, agriculture, and mining industries. The country's strategic ports and its potential for natural gas production are adding to its growing influence in East Africa. The services sector is the largest contributor to the country's GDP with a share of 30%, followed by the industry sector at 27% and agriculture at 24% in 2022.

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