Africa-EU - key statistical indicators

Data from October 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: December 2018.

This article presents statistical indicators for Africa and the European Union (EU) focussing on demography, health and key economic indicators. It examines gross domestic product (GDP) and public finances, as well as trade in goods between African countries and the EU. Recent developments in life expectancy and children's mortality in Africa are compared with the EU. As a strong driver for access to the information society, the article also looks into mobile communication subscriptions in both regions.

The article accompanies the recently released 2017 edition of the statistical compendium ‘The European Union and the African Union — A statistical portrait’, prepared jointly by Eurostat and the Statistics Division of the African Union (AU) Commission in the framework of the promotion of economic governance as foreseen by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. More detailed data can be found in this publication, as well as in the Eurostat datasets referred to under each Figure and Table (‘Source’) and in the section Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database below.

Figure 1: Population index with forecasts up to 2050 (1960 = 100) - Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and United Nations Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Table 1: World population (mid-year) (million), 1995-2016 - Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and United Nations Population Division
Figure 2: World population by regions, 2016 and 2050 (projection) (%) - Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and United Nations Population Division
Figure 3:Life expectancy at birth - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Figure 4: Infant mortality rate, 2007-2016 (deaths per thousand live births) - Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Figure 5: Under-five mortality rate, 2007-2016 (deaths per thousand live births) - Source: Eurostat (demo_magec), (demo_fasec)) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Figure 6: EU-28 international merchandise trade by partner region, value, 2016 (%) - Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_maineu)
Figure 7: EU-28 international merchandise trade with Africa, value, 2007-2016 (EUR billion) - Source: Eurostat DS-018995
Figure 8: EU-28 international merchandise trade with Africa, by product group (SITC section), value, 2016 (EUR billion) - Source: Eurostat DS-018995
Figure 9: EU-28 imports of goods from Africa by main partners, value, 2016 (%) - Source: Eurostat DS-018995
Figure 10: EU-28 exports of goods to Africa by main partners, value, 2016 (%) - Source: Eurostat DS-018995
Figure 11: Government revenue and expenditure, 2008-2016 (% of GDP) - Source: Eurostat (gov_10a_main) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Figure 12: GDP per capita at current prices, top 10 EU Member States and top 10 African countries, 2016 (EUR) - Source: Eurostat (nama_10_pc) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Figure 13: GDP growth rates at constant prices, top 10 EU Member States and top 10 African countries, 2015-2016 (%) - Source:Eurostat (tec00115) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission
Table 2: Gross Domestic Product at current prices, 2006-2016 - Source: Eurostat (nama_10_gdp), (nama_10_pc)) and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission and World Bank
Figure 14: Mobile communication subscriptions, top 20 EU Member States and African countries, 2015 (subscriptions per thousand inhabitants) - Source: World Bank and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission

Main statistical findings


Strong growth in its population – is Africa a sleeping giant of the world economy?

Africa's population growth has far outstripped that of Europe and projections suggest it will continue to do so. The forecasts predict that Africa will represent a quarter of the world population by 2050, compared to 13 % in 1995 and a bit more than 16 % in 2016. For the period 2016-2050, Africa is projected to account for over half the growth in world population, while EU-28 should account for less than 1 % of the population increase over this period. The result is that the share of EU-28 in the world population should continue its fall from 8 % in 1995, 7 % in 2016 to 5 % by 2050.

In 1980, the populations of the EU-28 and Africa were broadly the same, being respectively 10 % and 11 % of the world population. After fifteen years, in 1995, the size of the population of Africa exceeded that of the EU-28 by almost 50 %, and by 2016 it was more than double the EU-28’s. Projections indicate that by 2050 Africa’s population will be well over four times larger than the EU-28’s. This is the result of a high and continuing growth rate in Africa’s population (2.7 % per year between 1995 and 2016) compared with a much slower growth for the EU-28 (0.3 % each between the same years) (Table 1). The main reason for this difference in the projected population growth in Africa and in the European Union is that the population in African countries is substantially younger than in European Union Member States.

There have been very high population growth rates for individual African countries, eg Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, which are among the most populous, all grew by an average annual rate of 3 % or more between 2010 and 2016. On the other hand Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia had more modest population growth rates of less than 2 %. However, the countries recording the highest growth rates over this period were Niger (4.1 % per annum) and South Sudan (4.0 % per annum).

In 2016, Nigeria with 187 million had the highest population in Africa, followed by Ethiopia with 102 million and Egypt with 93 million. South Africa, one of the continent’s largest economies, had a population of 55 million.

The scope for African development is illustrated by the gap between Africa’s share of world population (Figure 2) and its share of world GDP (Table 2). Africa’s 16.4 % share of world population in 2016 translated into a share of 3.3 % of world GDP. If Africa were able to match China's or Brazil's GDP per capita, Africa would account for some 12.5 % and 13.6 % respectively of world GDP.

There is a substantial difference in life expectancy at birth between Africa and the EU (Figure 3). In 2015, the life expectancy in Africa was 61.1 years, compared to 80.6 years in the EU. There has been some gradual improvement in life expectancy in both continents, but the figures reflect different challenges. For the EU-28, the burden created by an ageing population is growing, while for Africa, the loss to the economy imposed by early deaths remains substantial. Generally, life expectancy in North Africa and in several smaller African island states such as Cape Verde, Mauritius and the Seychelles is close to the European level, at over 70 years. However, in Swaziland life expectancy was only 48.9 in 2015. Also in a number of other Sub-Saharan countries, including the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Lesotho and Sierra Leone, life expectancy at birth was less than 52 years.

Infant mortality rate is a good indicator for the impact of the efforts made by national health systems. Over the last ten years, the infant mortality rate in Africa dropped significantly, from 69.9 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2007 to 47.8 in 2016 (Figure 4). Nevertheless, it was substantially above the EU-28 rate of 3.6 deaths per thousand live new-borns in 2015. The same trends are observed for under-five mortality rate (i.e. the probability that a new-born baby will die before reaching age five), which was almost halved in Africa over the last ten years to reach 67.0 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2016 (Figure 5).

International merchandise trade

The EU-28 Trade Balance turned to a surplus

In 2016, Africa as a whole accounted for 8 % of EU-28 exports and 7 % of EU-28 imports (Figure 6). The EU-28 trade balance with Africa turned to a surplus in 2015 and the balance remained positive in 2016, a consequence of a continous decrease of the value of EU-28 imports from Africa over the last four years from the record level in 2012 and a more stable level of EU-28 exports to Africa (Figure 7). From 2007 to 2014, the EU-28 ran a consistent deficit on its trade in goods with Africa. Despite the fall in African imports since 2012, this reflects Africa’s position as a major supplier of mineral-fuel imports to the EU. Total energy product imports (mainly crude oil) from Africa amounted to EUR 41.6 billion in 2016, which made up around 35 % of total EU-28 imports from Africa that year (Figure 8). However, this represents a considerable drop compared to 2015 where the EU’s energy product imports from Africa amounted to EUR 61.6 billion and represented 47 % of total EU-28 imports.

From 2013 onwards the value of EU-28 imports from Africa has fallen each year. In 2016, the imports from Africa, at EUR 116.7 billion, had fallen by 38 % compared to the peak of 186.7 billion EUR in 2012. By far the main cause for this was the fall in value of crude oil and natural gas imports from Africa, due in large part to falling world market prices for these products. Nevertheless, for energy products (in particular crude oil), Africa is second only to Russia as an EU-28 import source in 2016.

The three main African partners for EU-28 imports of goods were South Africa (20 % of total import value from Africa), Algeria (14 %) and Morocco (12 %) (Figure 9). South Africa largely owed its position to the supply of mining products, including gold and diamonds, and motor vehicles. Due to the fall in petroleum prices, the value of this trade has dropped and countries such as Libya (combined with continued instability following the civil war in 2011), Algeria and Nigeria have seen their share in EU-28 imports from Africa falling in recent years. However, Algeria still mainly traded petroleum products, more specifically crude oil and natural gas, to the EU-28. Morocco mainly sold equipment for distributing electricity to the EU-28.

EU-28 exports to Africa followed a similar pattern as imports, but generally at a more subdued level. Again there was a fall in 2009 but at nowhere near the same magnitude as for imports. From 2009 to 2012, EU-28 exports started to increase again, before stabilising at around EUR 153 billion from 2013 to 2015 and falling again to almost EUR 144 billion in 2016.

The major markets for EU-28 exports to Africa in 2016 were South Africa (16 % of total export value from Africa) and Morocco (15 %), followed by Egypt and Algeria (14 %) (Figure 10). EU-28 exports to Africa were dominated by processed products, in particular road vehicles; with EUR 54.5 billion, this product group accounted for more than a third of the total value of EU-28 exports to Africa (Figure 8).

Government expenditure and revenue

Wide differences between the two Unions and between countries within Africa

The fiscal balance of a country is the difference between government expenditure and its revenue. The fiscal balance was negative for the EU-28 over the whole period 2008-2016, but it has steadily decreased since 2010 and stood at -1.7 % in 2016. In contrast, the fiscal balance has gradually increased in Africa since 2012 (-3.1 %), resulting in a deficit of -6.6 % in 2016.

In the EU-28, overall government expenditure was 46.6 % of GDP in 2016. From a level of 46.2 % in 2008, government expenditure rose to around 50 % of GDP in 2009 and 2010, before falling constantly since 2012 back to a level close to 2008 (Figure 11). In 2016, government revenue across EU Member States ranged from 26.3 % of GDP in Ireland to 54.2 % in Finland. For Africa, government expenditure fluctuated throughout the period 2008 - 2016, varying from 26.5 % in 2008 to 31.0 % in 2012, and amounted to 29.7 % of GDP in 2016. There were significant variations among the African countries. Libya stood out with government expenditure reaching 75.1 % of GDP in 2016. It was followed by Lesotho (62.7 %), South Sudan (57.4 %) and Djibouti (51.6 %). Generally, government expenditure figures are between 20 % and 35 % for the majority of African countries. The lowest government expenditures were found in Sudan (10.8 % of GDP), Nigeria (11.3 %), Democratic Republic of Congo (15.1 %) and the Central African Republic (15.2 %) in 2016.

Government revenue has remained relatively stable for the EU-28 as a whole since 2008, between 43 % and 45 %, and represented 44.9% of GDP in 2016. Among EU Member States, government expenditure varied between 27.0 % of GDP in Ireland and 56.2 % in France in 2016. For Africa as a whole, government revenue has fallen since 2012 (27.9 %), representing 23.1 % of GDP in 2016, and there was a wide range among African countries. Thus, Lesotho stood out with government revenue of 59.6 % of GDP in 2016, followed by Djibouti (38.7 %), Botswana (35.8 %) and South Sudan (35.6 %). The lowest government revenue rate in 2016 was found in Nigeria and Sudan, with 9.0 % of GDP.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Strong GDP growth in Africa

The EU-28 as a whole had a GDP per capita of EUR 29 000 in 2016, a progression of 12 % over the last ten years representing an increase of EUR 3 000 compared to 2007. Over the same period, the GDP per capita for Africa as a whole recorded a progression of 73 %, from EUR 1 100 in 2007 to EUR 1 900 in 2016.

Figure 12 shows the top ten African countries and top ten EU Member States in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. At the head of the African list are the Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius and Gabon. Between 2007 and 2016, GDP per capita for Mauritius and Seychelles rose at annual rates of 8.5 % and 6.7 % respectively. Both countries depend on tourism for their growth, albeit to varying degrees. After a fall in 2009, reflecting lower demand in the tourism sector during the worldwide economic crisis, the GDP per capita for the Seychelles has grown steadily. Mauritius has continued to power ahead, taking advantage of the benefits from a more balanced economy with some manufacturing and a well-developed financial sector. For Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, this is a reflection of the development and exploitation of their large mineral oil resources and relatively small populations. However, both countries being heavily dependent on exports of oil and gas, the fall in market prices in the latest years for these products led to a contraction of their GDP and decreases of their GDP growth rates in the last two years.

Due to the impact of the uprising and subsequent instability, the GDP per capita of Libya dropped from EUR 12 100 in 2012 to just over EUR 7 200 in 2016. Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia, all largely dependent on mining with diamonds as a key factor for all three countries, occupy places six, seven and eight respectively. The increase in Africa's share of world GDP from 2006 to 2016 was due to strong GDP growth rates in most African countries. However, the effects of civil uprisings can be clearly seen in the GDP growth figures for a number of countries after 2011. As usual, the GDP growth rates of the top ten African countries from 2015 to 2016 outstripped the growth rates of the top ten EU-28 countries (Figure 13). Côte d'Ivoire topped the list in 2016 with a GDP growth of 8.4 %, followed by Ethiopia (7.6 %) and Tanzania (7.2 %). Altogether 14 African countries recorded higher GDP growth rates in 2016 than the two best performing European Union Member States, Ireland, with 5.1 % and Malta (5.0 %).

Use of mobile networks

Huge contrasts in mobile communication

Mobile communication in Africa has exploded over the last decade. As fixed network infrastructures are expensive and take a long time to build, mobile networks have taken a prominent role in the development of the telecommunications sector and the information society in Africa. As a result, mobile communication penetration has risen rapidly. In 2015, the number of mobile communication subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in Africa reached 823, almost four times the 2006 level. In 2015, the rate was 1 213 in the EU-28 (Figure 14).

In terms of mobile communication subscriptions per inhabitant, the top 20 joint list for Africa and the European Union is topped by four African countries: Botswana, South Africa, Gabon and the Seychelles, with subscriptions rates ranging from 1 581 to 1 690 in 2015. The first EU Member State is Austria, in fifth place with 1 574 subscriptions per thousand inhabitants. In contrast with the eleven African countries lying above the EU-28 average, Eritrea lagged far behind with only 70 subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in 2015. South Sudan and the Central African Republic also have low mobile communications penetration, recording 239 and 259 subscriptions respectively in 2015. Nevertheless, most countries with a low mobile communication penetration registered high growth rates. In Ethiopia, which over the last decade has recorded the highest growth rate, the penetration had increased from 11 subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in 2006 to 428 in 2015.

Data sources and availability

Data sources

The content of this article is based on data for African countries, provided by the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission. These data were produced by the National Statistical Institutes or National Central Banks of the African countries or by international organisations (United Nations, OECD, IMF, World Bank and ILO). Data on the European Union and on trade between Africa and the European Union have been extracted from Eurostat's databases Eurobase and Comext.

African economic data (GDP, government finances, trade) were provided in US Dollars or in national currencies; they have been converted to EUR using the average annual rate of exchange. The exchange rates are published by the European Commission under InforEuro

This article is based on the recently released 2017 edition of the statistical compendium ‘The European Union and the African Union — A statistical portrait’; data for further statistical areas and indicators can be found there, for all available African Union and European Union Member States.

African data are also available in the African Statistical Yearbook, prepared jointly by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

African countries

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Data for South Sudan were only available for a limited number of tables.

EU-28 Member States

Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom

International merchandise trade statistics In the methodology applied for statistics on the trading of goods, extra-EU trade (trade between Member States and non-member countries) statistics do not record exchanges involving goods in transit, placed in a customs warehouse or given temporary admission (for trade fairs, temporary exhibitions, tests, etc.). This is known as "special trade"; the partner recorded will be the country of final destination of the goods.

SITC classification

In Figure 8, information on commodities exported and imported are presented according to the Standard international trade classification (SITC) at the more general 'section' level (1-digit level).

Gross domestic product (GDP)

National accounts data for the African countries have been provided by the African Union Commission. These have primarily been obtained from various national sources. Where necessary, official figures have been adjusted to conform to the System of National Accounts (SNA).

For European countries, annual national accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010); ESA is broadly consistent with the SNA as regards the definitions, accounting rules and classifications.

Mobile communication subscriptions

The number of mobile phone subscriptions per thousand inhabitants for EU countries gives the number of active mobile networks per thousand inhabitants. It includes both voice and data services, whether installed in mobile phones, tablets, notebooks or other devices.


This article is based on the 2017 edition of the ‘European Union and the African Union — A statistical portrait’ publication, prepared jointly by Eurostat and the Statistics Division of the African Union Commission.

Further statistics, covering all available African Union and European Union Member States, can be found in this publication. The first chapter gives an overview of demography and health, key economic indicators and external trade in Africa, Europe and some selected countries and world regions. Thematic chapters present key statistical indicators for demography, health, education, national accounts, economy and finance, industry and services and external economic relations.

The book has two tables for each indicator: one presenting data for the African countries and one for the European countries. Data for South Sudan were only available for a limited number of tables.

Africa-EU Strategic Partnership

The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), agreed in 2007, defines long-term policy orientations between the two continents, based on a shared vision and common principles. Within this framework, the African Union and the European Union work in partnership on a range of important issues as set out in the Joint roadmap 2014-17, which was adopted by African and EU Heads of State and Government during the 4th EU-Africa summit in April 2014.

The eighth College to College (C2C) meeting took place between the African Union Commission and the European Commission on 7 April 2016 in Addis Ababa and reaffirmed the aims of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and of its five priority areas of the Joint Roadmap: 1. Peace and Security; 2. Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights; 3. Human development; 4. Sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration; and 5. Global and emerging issues.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Demography (t_pop)
Demography - National data (t_demo)
Population projections (t_proj)
Mortality (demo_mor)
Infant mortality rates (demo_minfind)
International trade data (t_ext)
International trade long-term indicators (t_ext_lti)
Government finance statistics (EDP and ESA2010) (t_gov_gfs10)
Annual government finance statistics (t_gov_a)
Government deficit and debt (t_gov_dd)
Annual national accounts (t_nama)
GDP and main components (t_nama_10_gdp)
  • Information Society, see:
DG CONNECT's Digital Agenda Scoreboard


Demography and migration (pop)
Population (demo_pop)
Mortality (demo_mor)
Population projections (proj)
EUROPOP2013 - Population projections at national level (proj_13n)
National accounts (ESA 2010) (na10)
Annual national accounts (ESA 2010) (nama10)
Main GDP aggregates (nama_10_ma)
GDP and main components (output, expenditure and income) (nama_10_gdp)
Government finance statistics (EDP and ESA 2010) (gov_gfs10)
Annual government finance statistics (gov_10a)
Government deficit and debt (gov_10dd)
International trade detailed data (detail)
EU trade since 1988 by SITC (DS-018995)
Telecommunication services (isoc_tc)

Dedicated section

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

External links