Chapter

II Eastern and Southern Africa: Broad Characteristics of the Region

Author(s):
Arvind Subramanian
Published Date:
September 2000
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The 22 eastern and southern African countries covered in this study vary considerably in population, size, and economic profile (Table 2.1). Population size varies from fewer than 80,000 people in Seychelles to about 62 million people in Ethiopia. The average per capita income of about US$1,100 also masks large variations across countries. The Seychelles is the richest country, with a per capita GDP of about US$6,000 at 1990 prices, while the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stands as the poorest country, with an income per capita of US$99 (a ratio of 60 to 1). There is also a wide variation in income inequality among countries. For example, the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, varies from 29 in Rwanda to 59 in South Africa, the latter being among the highest in the world.

Table 2.1Eastern and Southern Africa: Basic Economic Indicators
Population1

(Million)
Area2

(000sq.km)
GDP per

Capita3

(US$)
GDP4

(US$ billion)
Growth of GDP per Capita5Gini

Coefficient6
1980–891990–941995–99
Angola12.81,2478306.4-1.1-8.03.5
Botswana1.65673,6405.27.32.02.7
Burundi6.2261631.00.7-1.5-2.8
Comoros0.624380.20.0-0.4-3.1
Congo, Dem, Rep. of45.92,267993.0-1.0-11.2-6.6
Eritrea1010.6
Ethiopia61.71,0001936.7-0.90.34.840
Kenya30.056934210.60.9-3.40.345
Lesotho2.224010.91.91.42.156
Madagascar15.05822333.7-2.1-3.10.046
Malawi11.0942261.8-1.4-2.05.2
Mauritius1.223,1514.03.84.23.7
Mozambique17.37842494.1-0.70.76.0
Namibia1.88231,8103.0-2.40.7-0.5
Rwanda7.1253422.0-1.4-12.111.429
Seychelles0.10.55,9990.61.83.11.1
South Africa43.21,2212,943131,00.2-2.5-0.359
Swaziland171,0911.22.00.61.0
Tanzania32.68841898.6-0.6-0.21.638
Uganda22.22003275.8-0.31.84.839
Zambia10.07433513.1-1.7-2.9-0.550
Zimbabwe13.13878055.71.60.9-0.157

Many countries in the ESA region experienced an improvement in economic performance in the second half of the 1990s, with 13 of 22 countries exhibiting increases in per capita GDP. South Africa dominates the economic landscape of the region, accounting for 62 percent of ESA’s GDP and 74 percent of its exports. It is also dominant in terms of the industrial base, the amount of skilled manpower, the quality of its physical and financial infrastructure, and the maturity of domestic institutions and of the legal and regulatory frameworks.

Agriculture accounts for a large (about 26 percent) albeit declining share of output in ESA countries (see Appendix II, Table A1). ESA countries are more dependent than middle-income countries on agriculture, although the disparity between the two groups is less if shares are computed on a weighted-average basis because of the relatively small share of agriculture in South Africa.2 Angola is the only fuel-based economy.

There is a corresponding disparity in the industrial sector, as ESA countries generate less than 30 percent of output (35 percent on a weighted average basis) in that sector, compared with 42 percent in middle-income countries. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland), Zambia, and Mauritius are the most manufacturing-intensive economies in the region.

Services account for roughly the same share of output in both ESA and middle-income countries. The island economies (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles), Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe derive more than 50 percent of their output from services.

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