Africa’s GDP Growth Over Time

I was interest in exploring some World Bank Indicators data to look at Africa’s changing GDP over time. So I used Looker Studio to connect to the dataset in BigQuery and visualized the data.

What is GDP?

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product. It’s like the total scorecard of a country’s economy. Imagine you have a giant lemonade stand that represents the whole country’s businesses and activities. Everything this lemonade stand sells in a year, from the lemonade itself to cookies and other snacks, all adds up to its total sales.

GDP is similar, but instead of tracking the sales of a lemonade stand, it tracks the total value of all goods and services produced and sold by a country in a year. This includes everything from cars and computers to medical services and education. It’s a way of measuring how big and healthy an economy is. If the GDP is going up, it usually means the country’s economy is doing well, people are making and buying more things. If the GDP is going down, it might mean the economy is not doing so great. It’s like a snapshot that tells us how well the economy is performing.

Africa’s GDP in 1970

In 1970 there’s a lot of missing data for Africa. What we can see in the map below (with green indicating the highest values and red indicating the lowest values) is that South Africa and Nigeria were the nations on the continent with the highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

This GDP is measured in constant 2015 US dollars, a measure provided by the World Bank.

In 1970 there's a lot of missing data for Africa. What we can see in the map below (with green indicating the highest values and red indicating the lowest values) is that South Africa and Nigeria were the nations on the continent with the highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

In the treemap chart below we see how South Africa and Nigeria’s economies make up roughly half of Africa’s GDP among the data available in 1970.

treemap chart below we see how South Africa and Nigeria's economies make up roughly half of Africa's GDP among the data available in 1970.

Africa’s GDP in 2020

Fast forward to 2020 and we see that South Africa now longer has the highest GDP in Africa. Instead that belongs to Nigeria, followed by Egypt.

Fast forward to 2020 and we see that South Africa now longer has the highest GDP in Africa. Instead that belongs to Nigeria, followed by Egypt.

Nigeria and South Africa still make up a sizable chunk of Africa’s GDP, but Egypt has caught up and so have many other African nations especially Kenya and Ethiopia.

a treemap chart of Africa's economies by GDP

GDP Changes between 1970 and 2020

The map below maps changes in GDP between 1970 and 2020. We immediately notice that Botswana had the largest growth of any African country.

The map below maps changes in GDP between 1970 and 2020. We immediately notice that Botswana had the largest growth of any African country.

Using the data provided, we can see that while Africa’s GDP overall grew from $430.5 billion USD to $2.5 trillion USD between 1970 and 2020 Botswana’s increased a whopping 3,512.98 % during the fifty year period.

Using the data provided, we can see that while Africa's GDP overall grew from $430.5 billion USD to $2.5 trillion USD between 1970 and 2020 Botswana's increased a whopping 3,512.98 % during the fifty year period.

Below is a chart showing Botswana’s GDP between 1960 (the earliest data available) and 2020 (the most recent data in the World Bank data set).

Below is a chart showing Botswana's GDP between 1960 (the earliest data available) and 2020 (the most recent data in the World Bank data set).

We can see the rest of Africa, with the top 20 economies displayed in this graph. We can see how Nigeria overtakes South Africa in the mid 2000s and how Egypt’s economy has grown tremendously.

We can see the rest of Africa, with the top 20 economies displayed in this graph. We can see how Nigeria overtakes South Africa in the mid 2000s and how Egypt's economy has grown tremendously.

Visualized another way, as a percentage of the total, we can see South Africa’s share of the total African GDP slowly shrink over the years.

Visualized another way, as a percentage of the total, we can see South Africa's share of the total African GDP slowly shrink over the years.

GDP Changes between 2000 and 2020

We can also explore the changes that have occurred over a shorter and more recent timeframe. Specifically, how Ethiopia and to a lesser extent Rwanda have grown over time.

Between 2000 and 2020 Africa’s GDP grew by 114% while Ethiopia’s grew by quadruple that; an impressive 447%.

Between 2000 and 2020 Africa's GDP grew by 114% while Ethiopia's grew by quadruple that; an impressive 447%.

Below is a chart showing GDP in the year 2000 (Comparison Year Value) and GDP in 2020 (Selected Year Value) as well as the percentage change between these years. We can see that Ethiopia was the best performing African nation by a wide margin.

Below is a chart showing GDP in the year 2000 (Comparison Year Value) and GDP in 2020 (Selected Year Value) as well as the percentage change between these years. We can see that Ethiopia was the best performing African nation by a wide margin.

Looking at this chart showing data from 1980 onwards, we see that Ethiopia’s economy stagnated for much of the 1980s and 1990s before swiftly growing in the new millennium.

Looking at this chart showing data from 1980 onwards, we see that Ethiopia's economy stagnated for much of the 1980s and 1990s before swiftly growing in the new millennium.

And below we can see how the tragic 1994 genocide impacted Rwanda’s economic growth.

And below we can see how the tragic 1994 genocide impacted Rwanda's economic growth.

Thank you for reading!

I hope you found this blog post interesting!

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