Top Resource-Rich African Countries


Unfortunately, when the conversation about natural wealth comes up, most people immediately imagine oil, because oil-rich countries seem to reap the most revenue when it comes to natural wealth.

According to Statista; in 2019, more than 80% of Nigeria’s export value came from its mineral fuels, oils and distillation products, worth around US$47 billion. That is until supply and demand dwindle due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent global crises.

Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, with a GDP of $441 billion for 2021. Additionally, some of the richest countries in Africa, such as Algeria, Egypt, and Angola, feature among the ten richest countries in Africa, thanks to their oil reserves.

With this data, it’s easy to buy into the narrative that oil is the only real source of natural wealth, but that’s far from a fact. There are other natural resources that can create a tremendous amount of wealth for any economy.

Precious elements like gold, copper, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, timber, coltan, and coal, among others, are valuable enough to create immense wealth for the continent. It is necessary to expand the profit margins of these resources. Fortunately, there are already a number of countries in Africa that have taken this initiative.

Below are five African countries that are maximizing their natural resources, apart from oil and agriculture, in GDP revenue:

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): GDP ($12.52 billion)

Located in Central Africa, the DRC is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, just behind Algeria on the whole continent. It has many natural resources, some of which are predominant in the country. It is estimated that there are $28 trillion in untapped mineral resources in this country. This large country has 89.56 million inhabitants. The DRC is rich in minerals, mainly cobalt and coltan. It has the largest coltan reserve of any country, supplying 80% of the world’s coltan. Coltan is used in the production of tantalum capacitors. Tantalum capacitors are used in almost all types of electronic devices, especially cell phones. The democratic republic is also the world’s largest supplier of cobalt, producing around 120,000 metric tons that year. To top it off, it is the leading supplier of copper in Africa. In 2021 alone, the country generated around 1.88 million metric tons of copper.

South Africa: GDP ($418.02 billion)

South Africa occupies most of the southern tip of Africa, with a coastline that stretches for just over 3,000 kilometres. Although South Africa owes much of its wealth to industrialization, financial and government services, and agriculture, 10-20% of its GDP each year is generated from its natural resources. It has a population of 60.14 million. South Africa has one of the most extensive mining industries in the world, exploiting resources such as platinum, chrome, manganese, gold, diamonds, iron ore, cobalt and phosphate. The revenue that South Africa generates per year on minerals is around $55 billion to $125 billion depending on the year. The country also accounts for 4.2% of global gold production, having distributed 100 tons of gold in 2021.

Ghana: GDP ($72.35 billion)

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and located in West Africa, Ghana is rich in many natural resources including; bauxite, aluminum, diamond and wood. Ghana has a population of 31.07 million. Ghana’s wealth is the product of good resource management. Of these resources, Ghana is most dependent on its arable land and gold reserves. Aptly dubbed the Gold Coast, Ghana is the largest supplier of gold to the entire African continent. Ghana produced around 117 metric tonnes of gold in 2021. Prior to the global pandemic which affected many businesses, Ghana produced around 140 metric tonnes of gold on average each year. Ghana earns between $5 billion and $7.2 billion a year from gold alone.

Botswana: GDP ($17.61 billion)

Botswana is a country known for its beautiful wildlife. 38% of its land is devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. Landlocked in the southern part of Africa and with a population of just over 2 million, Botswana is one of those quiet but prosperous countries in the African plain. Botswana, like most African countries, has a number of natural resources, but for this nation, its main export product is diamonds, an invaluable natural resource. About 80% of its exports are diamonds. The total value of its diamond exports in 2021 was $3.466 billion. Botswana is currently the second largest diamond producer in the world, just behind Russia. Botswana is also rich in nickel, copper, coal and of course, its arable land.

Zambia: GDP ($19.32 billion)

The Republic of Zambia is another wildlife-friendly country located in the southern region of Africa. Also landlocked, this country has a population of 18.38 million and is widely known for its national parks and the magnificent Victoria Falls. Zambia is rich in natural resources, but its main export product is copper. It is the tenth largest copper producer in the world and the second largest copper producer in Africa just after the DRC. It produced 830,000 metric tons of copper in 2022. Other natural minerals can also be found in Zambia, including emerald and cobalt.


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