Africa-EU - key statistical indicators
- Data from December 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: July 2018.
This article compares statistical indicators of Africa and the European Union (EU) and their share in the total world population and economic performance. 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 infant mortality in Africa are compared with the EU. As a strong driver for access to the information society, the article also looks into the number of mobile communication subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in the population.
The article accompanies the recently released 2016 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.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
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 25 % of the world population by 2050, compared to 13 % in 1995 and a bit more than 16 % in 2015. For the period 2015-2050, Africa is projected to account for over half the growth in world population (2.5 %), while the equivalent figure for the EU-28 is no more than 0.1 %. The result is that the share of EU-28 in the world population should continue its fall from 8 % in 1995, 7 % in 2015 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 2015 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 (Figure 1). This is the result of a high and continuing growth rate in Africa’s population (2.5 % per year between 1995 and 2015) 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 such as Chad, Angola, Uganda or Tanzania, which are among the most populous, all grew by an average annual rate of 3 % or more between 2010 and 2015. On the other hand Morocco, Algeria, Swaziland and South Africa had more modest population growth rates of less than 2 %. However, the countries recording the highest growth rates over this period were South Sudan (4.2 % per annum), Niger (4.1 %) and Burundi (3.4 %).
In 2015, Nigeria with 182 million had the highest population in Africa, followed by Ethiopia with 99 million and Egypt with 91 million. South Africa, one of the continent’s largest economies, had a population of 54 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 16.1 % share of world population in 2015 translated into a share of 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 Lesotho, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Chad and Cote d'Ivoire, life expectancy at birth was less than 52 years.
Infant mortality rates are a good indicator of socio-economic development. From 2005 to 2015, the infant mortality rate in Africa dropped significantly, from 75.2 to 52.8 (Figure 4). Nevertheless, it was substantially above the EU-28 rate of 3.6 deaths per thousand live new-borns in 2015.
The EU-28 Trade Balance turned to a surplus
The EU-28 trade balance with Africa turned to a surplus in 2015. In contrast, the value of imports from Africa continued to fall for the third continuous year, from the record level in 2012. In 2015, Africa as a whole accounted for 9 % of both EU-28 imports and exports (Figure 5). From 2003 to 2014, the EU-28 ran a consistent deficit on its trade in goods with Africa (Figure 6). 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 61.6 billion in 2015. This made up around 47 % of total EU-28 imports from Africa that year. As a percentage of total trade (imports plus exports), the trade surplus was nearly 8 % in 2015, in contrast to the negative values of -1 % in 2014 and almost -5 % in 2013.
The EU-28 fluctuation in the trade balance with Africa is largely due to imports of energy products (Figure 7). From 2013 onwards the value of EU-28 imports from Africa has fallen each year. In 2015, the imports from Africa, at EUR 132.0 billion, had fallen by 29 % 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 2015. The three main African partners for imports of goods to the EU-28 were Algeria (16 % of total import value from Africa), South Africa (15 %) and Nigeria (14 %) (Figure 8). Together, these three countries accounted for 45 % of the total EU-28 imports from Africa. For both Algeria and Nigeria, the main product group imported to the EU-28 was petroleum products, more specifically crude oil and gas. South Africa largely owed its position to the supply of mining products, including gold and diamonds. Libya was the third most important import source for these products in 2013, but had fallen to place seven in 2015. This was largely due to the continued instability in the country since 2011, leading to large swings in its supply of crude oil and natural gas to the EU-28. The renewed instability, combined with the falling prices, led to the value of oil and gas imports from Libya to the EU-28 almost halving from 2013 to 2014.
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. Exports also experienced dynamic growth between 2004 and 2008, with an annual growth rate of 17 % in 2008. The decline, 10 % in 2009, was much less marked than for imports. The recovery of 16 % in 2010 was sustained with a rise of 8 % on 2011 and 11 % in 2012, before slowing down to 2% in 2013 and just above 0% in 2014 and 2015. Nevertheless, the EU-28 exports to Africa recorded a new high of EUR 154 billion in 2015.
The major markets for EU-28 exports to Africa in 2015 were South Africa and Algeria (17 % and 14 % respectively), followed by Egypt (13 %) and Morocco (12 %) (Figure 9). EU-28 exports to Africa were dominated by processed products, in particular road vehicles; with EUR 57.4 billion, this product group accounted for more than a third of the total value to Africa (Figure 7).
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. In the EU-28, overall government expenditure as percentage of GDP was 47.4 % in 2015. From a level of 46.5 % in 2008, government expenditure rose to around 50 % of GDP in 2009 and 2010, before falling and stabilising between 48 % and 49 % in subsequent years (Figure 10). For Africa, government expenditure fluctuated throughout the period 2008 -2015, varying from 26.5 % in 2008 to 31.0 % in 2012. Both government revenue and expenditure have fallen since 2012, with revenue at 18.9 % of GDP and expenditure at 24.7 % in 2015 for Africa as a whole.
Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP varied between approximately 35.1 % and 58.3 % across the EU Member States in 2015. There was a wide range also among African countries. Libya stood out with government expenditure reaching 93.4 % of GDP in 2015. It was followed at a considerable distance by Lesotho (50.4 %), Liberia (45.2 %), Djibouti (43.1 %) and Equatorial Guinea (35.6 %). Generally, government expenditure figures are between 20 % and 35 % for the majority of African countries. However, for many countries there are considerable fluctuations in this ratio from year to year. The lowest government expenditures, measured as percentage of GDP, were found in Sudan (12.3 %), Nigeria (12.6 %), Madagascar (12.7 %) and Côte d'Ivoire (13.0 %) in 2015.
Government revenue as a percentage of GDP has remained relatively stable at 44 % to 45 % for the EU-28 as a whole since 2008. In contrast, government revenue has tended to fluctuate for Africa. From a level of 27.9 % of GDP in 2012, Africa’s government revenue had fallen to 18.9 % in 2015. However, there were significant variations among the African countries. Thus, Lesotho stood out with government revenue of 50.9 % of GDP in 2015. Libya followed with 38.8 % in 2015; though with a significantly lower rate than in previous years. A group of 12 further countries recorded rates of government revenue of more than 25 % of GDP in 2015. The lowest government revenue rate in 2015 was found in Madagascar, with 9.3 %.
Gross domestic product (GDP)
Strong GDP growth in Africa
Figure 11 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 Equatorial Guinea, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Gabon. For Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, this is a reflection of the development and exploitation of their large mineral oil resources and relatively small populations. Between 2007 and 2015, GDP per capita (in euro) for these countries rose at an annual rate of 9 % for Mauritius and Seychelles and above 6 % for Equatorial Guinea. Angola and Algeria also benefitted from oil and gas resources and achieved growth rates of over 6 % for Angola and 4 % for Algeria in the same period. The GDP per capita of Gabon grew in average per year almost 3 % during that period.
The Seychelles and Mauritius also figure in the top ten list. It should be underlined that these 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.
Due to the impact of the uprising and subsequent instability, the GDP per capita of Libya dropped from over EUR 10 100 in 2012 to just over EUR 4 800 in 2015. Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia, all largely dependent on mining with diamonds as a key factor for all three countries, occupy places fifth, sixth and eighth respectively.
The increase in Africa's share of world GDP from 2005 to 2015 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. As usual, the GDP growth rates of the top ten African countries from 2014 to 2015 outstripped the growth rates of the top ten EU-28 countries, with the exception of Ireland (Figure 12). However, the exceptional GDP growth for Ireland from 2014 to 2015, 26.3 %, was to a large extent caused by an upwards revision of the GDP of Ireland for 2015. Before this revision, the Irish real GDP growth from 2014 to 2015 was reported as 7.8 %; more information on this issue can be found on Eurostat's website (here ) and the website of the Irish Central Statistics Office (here ). In Africa, Ethiopia topped the list in 2015 with a GDP growth of 9.6 %, followed by Liberia (9.3 %) and Côte d'Ivoire (8.8 %). Altogether 10 African countries recorded higher GDP growth rates in 2015 than the second best performing European Union Member State, Malta, with 6.2 %.
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 2014, the number of mobile communication subscriptions per thousand inhabitants reached 781, which was eight and a half times higher than a decade before (Figure 13).
In terms of mobile communication subscriptions per inhabitant, the top 20 list for Africa and the European Union includes Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Gabon, Botswana, the Seychelles, Denmark and Libya, among other African and European countries. These mentioned African countries had mobile communication penetration rates that matched the highest rates in the EU-28, all lying above the European Union Member States average of 1 355 mobile communication subscriptions per thousand inhabitants. In contrast, in particular Eritrea lagged far behind with only 64 subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in 2014. South Sudan and the Central African Republic also have low mobile communications penetration, both recording 245 subscriptions in 2014. Nevertheless, most countries with a low mobile communication penetration registered high growth rates. In Ethiopia, which over the decade from 2004 to 2014 has recorded the highest growth rate, the penetration had increased from two subscriptions per thousand inhabitants in 2004 to 316 in 2014.
Data sources and availability
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: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/inforeuro/
This article is based on the recently released 2016 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.
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. Although Morocco still was not a member of the African Union at the time where the data were published (December 2016), its statistics have been included in the tables and in the Africa totals. Data for South Sudan were only available for a limited number of tables.
External 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.
In Figure 7, 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 2016 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. Although Morocco still was not a member of the African Union at the time when the data were published (December 2016), its statistics have been included in the tables and in the Africa totals. 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.
- Building the System of National Accounts - introduction
- Statistical cooperation - introduction
- International statistical cooperation - instruments for technical assistance
- MEDSTAT programme
- Statistics in development cooperation - introduction
- Sustainable development - global partnership
Further Eurostat information
- The European Union and the African Union – A statistical portrait - 2016 edition
- African Statistical Yearbook
- EU-27 and Africa: selected indicators, comparisons and trends - Statistics in focus 19/2012
- Africa-EU: economic indicators, trade and investment - Statistics in focus 59/2010
- Population, see:
- Demography (t_pop)
- Demography - National data (t_demo)
- Population projections (t_proj)
- Mortality (demo_mor)
- Infant mortality rates (demo_minfind)
- International trade, see:
- 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
- Population, see:
- 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)
- Annual national accounts (ESA 2010) (nama10)
- Government finance statistics (EDP and ESA 2010) (gov_gfs10)
- Annual government finance statistics (gov_10a)
- Government deficit and debt (gov_10dd)
- International trade, see:
- International trade detailed data (detail)
- EU trade since 1988 by SITC (DS-018995)
- Telecommunication services (isoc_tc)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Africa and Europe partnership
- African Union
- European External Action Service (EEAS)
- European Commission – Directorate-General International Cooperation and Development
- African Development Bank
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa