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Scoring Africa: Tracking the Development of a Continent

Africa accounts for roughly 15% of the world’s population and 20% of the world’s land mass. It's made up of 54 countries, hundreds of ethnic groups, 7 major language families (with 2-3 thousand different languages), deserts, jungles, tropics, and subarctics. However, despite Africa's abundant resources and diversity, it still remains the poorest and most underdeveloped continent on earth.

To get an idea of how each country is developing, in comparison to the rest of the continent, the editors at Great Business Schools looked at 28 different indicators and graded each country on a scale from 0 to 100 - where 0 is the worst measure for an indicator and 100 is the best. We then averaged the indicators into 7 major categories and scaled them from 0 to 100. The overall scores are derived from the averages of the major categories and once again scaled from 0 to 100. We also included population statistics based on 2013 estimates.

You can get started exploring the graphic by clicking on the countries in the map, the factors (Health, Stability, Extreme Poverty, etc.) on the right, the dots in the quadrant graph or the individual countries in the bottom frame of the graphic.

In Depth Analysis

Through the quadrant graph you should note many tried and true maxims, and several surprising relationships. As literature has suggested, the forcing of heterogeneous people groups into the same nation often comes with difficulties. This is obvious when plotting participation in conflict against ethnic diversity. Agriculture, the indicator for value added per field worker, is notoriously low throughout much of Africa, and is closely linked to the extreme poverty rate. To put this in perspective, the value added per field worker in Nigeria is $3,416 per year. In America this value is almost $50,000, and in this aspect, Nigeria is one of the more well off African nations.

Extreme poverty and stability: The most stable countries exhibit a much lower level of extreme poverty. Personal safety and GDP per capita: The safest countries have higher GDP per capitas. However, most African countries exhibit similarly low GDPs and range from quite safe to particularly dangerous. This points to other factors being more pertinent to safety.

Use the quadrant graph with the explanatory tabs to find many more relationships on your own.

The Scoring Indicators


HIV/AIDS: Based on the percentage of adults (15-49) with HIV/AIDS.
MEDICAL PERSONNEL: Based on the number of physicians, nurses, and midwives per 1000 people.
LIFE EXPECTANCY: Based on the expected years of life from birth.
UNDER FIVE MORTALITY: Based on the number of children who die before age 5 per 1000 live births.


EXTREME POVERTY: Based on the percentage of people living on $2.00 USD or less per day.
GDP PER CAPITA: Based on the value of goods and services produced divided by the population.
EXPORTS: Based on the values of goods and services sent to other countries.
AGRICULTURE: Based on the agriculture value added per worker.


LITERACY: Based on the percentage of adults (15+) who can read and write.
COMPLETED PRIMARY: Based on the percentage of children who advance from the first grade to the last grade of primary school.
GOVERNMENT SPENDING: Based on the percentage of government expenditure on public and private education.
QUALITY OF EDUCATION: Based on student/teacher ratio, secondary/tertiary education, literacy/math skills.


POLITICAL RIGHTS: Based on the electoral process, political pluralism, participation, and functioning of government.
CIVIL LIBERTIES: Based on freedom of expression/belief, organizational rights, personal autonomy, and individual rights.
GENDER EQUALITY: Based on women in school/work force, equal representation, and legislation on violence against women.
LGBT RIGHTS: Based on punishment of homosexual acts/expressions, adoption laws, military service, and antidiscrimination laws.


RULE OF LAW: Based on judicial process/independence, sanctions, stability during power transfer, and property rights.
CONFLICT: Based on the number of armed conflicts a nation has participated in within the last 40 years.
PERSONAL SAFETY: Based on political persecution, social unrest, violent crime, and human trafficking.
NATIONAL SECURITY: Based on cross-border tensions, refugees, domestic conflict, and government involvement in conflicts.


ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY: Based on the percentage of people who have access to electricity.
ACCESS TO WATER: Based on the percentage of people who have access to clean water.tever reason, one indicator might affect the other indicator in the opposite direction.

The Quadrant Graph

How to read the quadrant graph:


Spotting clusters help identify how most countries score with relatively few exceptions. It gives an idea of how Africa, as a whole, is developing in certain areas. Clusters in the bottom left indicate under-development in both areas; whereas, clusters in the top right indicate better development in both areas.


When a relationship is spotted, sometimes there will be a country that doesn't follow the trend. These are called OUTLIERS, and they indicate where a country might be succeeding or failing relative to the trends of the continent.


When no pattern can be detected, more than likely there is no relationship between the two indicators.


WHO, UNDP, ILGA, UNESCO, IGME, FAO, Index Mundi, The World Bank, Freedom House, The World Fact Book, Gallup Worldview, Women for Women International, Nation Master, African Development Bank, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Fractionalization: Journal of Economic Growth, 8, 155-194, 2003.

Developed on behalf of
Developed by
Researched by Merrill Cook

Final Note about Africa

Africa is home to the 20 most diverse nations in the world, with thousands of ethnic groups and seven families of languages. Africa was home to many great empires, and then to seven colonizing powers. During the 80’s, the colonizers withdrew, taking many of Africa’s skilled workers and leaving many countries’ infrastructure in decay. After years of conflict, the natural resources rich continent is on the up and up. But like any continent so large, it’s hard to generalize.