Benin

Area
112,622 km²

Population
12,864,634 (2020)

 

 

Captial
Porto-Novo (legislative), Cotonou (administrative)

Official language
French

Currency
CFA (African Financial Community) franc

Benin is a West African coastal state on the Atlantic Ocean bordering on Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. While Porto-Novo is the country’s official capital, the seat of government is in the coastal city of Cotonou, further south on the Atlantic. Cotonou’s port is also of key economic importance for the country as it accounts for almost 40% of the national budget.

Benin is characterised by its long history of political stability. As a result, Benin has experienced high levels of immigration from neighbouring countries in West Africa, particularly between 1992 and 2002. In contrast, due to labour migration, almost 40% of Benin’s population now live outside the country’s borders, mainly in neighbouring Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. Presently, the population of Benin is very young and almost 65% of its inhabitants are under 25 years of age. Most of the population is concentrated in the south of the country. Although the southern provinces cover only about one-fifth of the country’s surface area, they are home to over two-thirds of the total population. A special characteristic of Benin is the direction the inner migration takes, compared to its African neighbours. Due to the high population density in the coastal regions, parts of the population migrate from the cities and fertile rural coastal regions to the less densely populated northern provinces to practice agriculture. Overall, almost 53% of the population live in rural areas.

The agricultural sector plays an important role in Benin’s economy. It employs 70% of the working-age population. Benin’s export earnings also largely depend on agricultural raw materials. Cotton is the country’s most important agricultural export commodity, ahead of palm oil, cocoa and coffee. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), cotton exports account for no less than 35% of export earnings and secures an income for almost 3 million people. Several cotton ginning plants for processing raw cotton are in the northern provinces of the country, as well as a spinning mill in Parakou. These locations are at the same time the main cotton-growing regions.

Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Benin, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bn.html

Adotevi, Stanislas Spero et.al. (2020) Benin, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL https://www.britannica.com/place/Benin

The Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO (2020). Integrated Production and Pest Management Programme in Africa – Benin, URL http://www.fao.org/agriculture/ippm/projects/benin/en

Burkina Faso

Area
270,764 km²

Population
20,835,401 (2020)

Captial
Ouagadougou

Official language
French

Currency
CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) Franc

Burkina Faso is a West African landlocked state bordering on the countries of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo. It is divided into three climatic zones, including the southern part with a hot tropical savannah and a short rainy season, a tropical hot semi-arid steppe typical of the Sahel in the northern half of the country and a small area in the far north with a hot desert that borders the Sahara. The three main rivers in the country are the Mouhoun (Black Volta), the Nazinon (Red Volta) and the Nakambé (White Volta).

Burkina Faso is characterised by high population growth. Almost 65% of the population is under 25 years of age. The country’s largest city and capital is Ouagadougou with 1.8 million inhabitants. Despite internal problems, such as temporary food shortages and violent conflicts in some parts of the country, Burkina Faso has taken in over 33,500 refugees from its neighbour Mali since May 2017. At the same time, labour migration to and from neighbouring states and increasingly beyond the borders of West Africa, is an established part of working life. Almost 1.5 million, or one-third of the working-age population, work temporarily across national borders. Almost two-thirds of the population live in rural areas, mostly subsistence farmers, i.e. farmers who farm and raise livestock primarily for their own livelihood.
A little less than half of the country’s area is used for agriculture (like farming, cattle breeding). Recurring droughts, overgrazing and deforestation, which lead to desertification, are increasingly challenging for farmers. The country generates three quarters of its export revenues from gold exports. This is followed by cotton, the most important agricultural product, that is not produced for domestic consumption but for export. At times, Burkina Faso was one of the largest cotton exporting countries with cotton of the highest quality from Africa. Following a slump in harvests caused by pests and droughts, genetically modified cotton was introduced in 2008 and then again banned in 2018. Reasons for this decision were the low cotton quality and the correspondingly lower cotton prices. Burkina Faso is now one of the largest producers of organic cotton in Africa.Sources:
Bavier, Joe (2017) . When America’s biotech giant tried to export its know-how to small cotton farmers in Burkina Faso, there was a problem: The quality sank. URL <https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/monsanto-burkina-cotton/>
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Burkina Faso, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uv.html>Guiguemde, Pierre H. et.al. (2019) Burkina Faso, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.britannica.com/place/Burkina-Faso >Krinninger, Theresa (2016), Burkina Faso abandons GM cotton, URL <https://www.dw.com/en/burkina-faso-abandons-gm-cotton/a-19362330>

Textile Exchange (2019) Africa – Organic cotton production 2018/2019, In: 2019 Organic Cotton Market Report, Textile Exchange (Hrsg.); URL https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/OCMR_Africa_Overview_2019.png

Chad

Area
1,284,000 km²

Population
16,877,357 (2020)

 

Capital
N’Djamena

Official Languages
Arabic, French

Currency
CFA franc (CFAF)

Chad (officially: Republique du Tchad also called Jumhuriyat Tshad) is the 5th largest country in Africa. Its name is originates from Lake Chad in the west of the country. Lake Chad is being fed by two large watercourses, the Chali and the Logone. As the largest of the 16 landlocked African states, Chad shares borders with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. Compared to other countries, Chad is said to have a particularly high diversity of languages ​​and cultures and therefore retains a special importance/position in terms of social and cultural exchanges in Africa. Presently, Chad is in third last place in the ranking of the Human Development Index with rank 187.

More than 40% of the total population live below the poverty line. Even so, Chad is a willing host country for many refugees from neighbouring countries. In the years 2019/2020, Chad received over 330,000 people from Sudan (especially Darfur), over 93,000 people from the Central African Republic and 13,900 people from Nigeria. In 2003 Chad became an oil producing country, which resulted in a considerable increase in expectations of an economic and social development. The larger part of the population still continuous to be employed in agricultural areas. Cotton, which is cultivated between the Chali and Logone rivers as a tributary to Lake Chad, is one of the main sources of export income, while the processing of raw cotton represents a significant proportion of the few industrial jobs in the country.

Sources:Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Chad, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.) URL https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cd.html, 03.06.2020,Jones, Douglas Henry & Grove, Alfred Thomas (2019). Chad, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL https://www.britannica.com/place/Chad/Settlement-patterns 03.06.2020

Côte d’Ivoire

Area
322.463 km²

Population
27.481.086 (2020)

 

Capital
Yamoussoukro (de jure), Abidjan (de facto)

Official language
French

 

Currency
CFA Franc (Communauté Financière Africaine)

 

Côte d’Ivoire is a coastal state in West Africa, bordering on the countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Mali. Yamoussoukro is the official capital of the country since 1983. However, the seat of government is in the coastal city of Abidjan, which at the same time is the nation’s economic centre and with over 5 million inhabitants the largest city in the country.

The majority of the population is also concentrated in and around Abidjan and other coastal towns in the tropical south, while the north of the country, which is characterised by savannah, is comparatively sparsely populated.
Almost 60% of the population is under the age of 25 while slightly less than half of the population lives in rural areas. Côte d’Ivoire thus has a relatively high degree of urbanization for Sub-Saharan Africa, i.e. a comparatively high proportion of the population lives in urban areas.
Until the early 1980s, Côte d’Ivoire was a prime example of stability and economic success in Africa. The labour-intensive cocoa and coffee industry in the southwest of the country attracted many migrants from other parts and neighbouring countries, especially from Burkina Faso, but also from Europe and Lebanon. Still today, migrants make up about a fifth of the total population. With the return of a relative stability in 2012 and the end of political unrest, the country’s economic growth in 2015-2020 will be one of the highest in the world.
Almost half of the working-age population is employed in the agricultural sector. Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans. Coffee and palm oil are major agricultural exports. Cotton, another export commodity, is grown in the southwest as well as in the north of the country.

Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Côte d’Ivoire, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iv.html>

Mundt, Robert John et al (2020) Côte d’Ivoire, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.britannica.com/place/Cote-dIvoire>

Cameroon

Area
475,440 km²

Population
27,744,989 (2020)

Captial
Yaoundé

Official languages
French, English

 

Currency
CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc

Cameroon is a country in Central Africa bordering the neighbouring countries of Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria. Its almost 400 km long coastline in the Bay of Bonny connects the country with the Atlantic Ocean.

After German colonial rule, part of the country became French and the other part British trust territory, which resulted in both French and English becoming Cameroon’s official languages. Parts of the country bordering on Nigeria are predominantly using English and the rest of the country French as the official language. Connected to this are recurrent and persistent tensions between the two parts of the country.

Cameroon is home to over 200 ethnic groups and is therefore displaying a large cultural diversity. While the interior and the south-west of the country are comparatively sparsely populated, larger parts of the population is concentrated in the north as well as in the west of the country around the capital Yaoundé and in the border area with Nigeria. As in many sub-Saharan African countries, the population structure is characterized by a particularly high proportion of young people. Over 60% of the population is under 25 years of age. Cameroon is undergoing an increasing migration of young parts of the population. In addition to the USA, Europe and the Near and Middle East, the destinations include countries in the immediate vicinity such as Gabon, South Africa and Nigeria. Meanwhile, with international support from Nigeria and the Central African Republic, Cameroon has taken in a total of over 410,000 refugees (as of 2020) since 2017.

Oil is the main export commodity of Cameroon. It accounts for almost 40% of exports. Other important sectors for the diversified economy are gas, wood and aluminium as well as agriculture and mining. Almost 70% of the working-age population works in agriculture. After coffee and cocoa, cotton is one of the three most important agricultural commodities. After oil, wood, cocoa, aluminium and coffee, cotton is one of the country’s main export goods. Following the introduction of cotton cultivation in 1952, it is still grown mainly by small farmers to this day. Since the beginning of the 2000s, Cameroon has strengthened its own processing capabilities of agricultural materials. This also includes the establishment of cotton mills in the country.

Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Cameroon, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cm.html
DeLancey, Mark W.; Benneh, George (2020) Cameroon, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.),URL https://www.britannica.com/place/Cameroon

Mozambique

Area
801,590 km²

Population
30,098,197 (2020)

Captial
Maputo

Official language
Portuguese

Currency
Metical

Mozambique is a coastal state in East Africa and borders on the neighboring countries Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Mozambique shares a border with Tanzania and Malawi through Lake Nyasa, the third largest lake in East Africa.

The Mozambique Canal separates the country from Madagascar, which is just under 400 km away. Mozambique’s coastline, with its many natural harbours, has given the coastal region an important role in maritime trade over the centuries.

As a result of the political conflicts that persisted in connection with the Cold War of 1977 and 1992, an estimated 1 million landmines along roads and paths are still not cleared. The northern province of Cabo Delgado, which is rich in gas projects, is now increasingly marked by outbreaks of violence. Militant units associated with the Islamic state are pitted against private military units from Russia and South Africa, which are supporting the Mozambican military in their fight against violence. This leads to a high number of currently almost 309,000 internally displaced persons. Despite the conflicts, Mozambique is also the host country of over 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, to a small extent, from Burundi.

Almost 65% of Mozambique’s population is under 25 years of age. At almost 36%, the majority of the population lives in rural areas, with increasing migration from the countryside to the urban centers and from the interior to the coasts. In addition to this internal migration, Mozambique is also characterised by labour migration, primarily to South Africa. South Africa also plays an important role for the country as the third largest trading partner for exports and the largest trading partner for imports. Repayments from migrant workers, but also income from a growing tourism industry, as well as port and train traffic are other important sources of income in the country. The agricultural sector, meanwhile, accounts for almost one-third of GDP and employs almost three-quarters of the working age population. A significant proportion of these are subsistence farmers who produce primarily for their own consumption. Cotton is the main agricultural commodity, ahead of cashew nuts and sugar cane. It is sold on the local market and is also exported. Cotton is the country’s fourth most important export commodity after aluminium, shrimps and cashew nuts.

Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Mozambique, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.),URL https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mz.html

Penvenne, Jeanne Marie et al (2020) Mozambique, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL https://www.britannica.com/place/Mozambique

Nigeria

Area
923,770 km²

Population
214,028,302 (July 2020)

Capital
Abuja

Official language
English

 

Currency
Naira

With over 200 million inhabitants and an area more than two and a half times the size of Germany, Nigeria is also known as “Africa’s giant”. Situated on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria has only one natural border with the Atlantic coast to the south; neighbouring countries are Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Chad to the northeast and Cameroon to the east.

The country is characterised by the diversity of its population. Over 400 different languages are spoken and there are an estimated 250 ethnic groups. As a result, Nigeria has to struggle with ethnic and religious conflicts.Since 1991 Abuja has been the capital of Nigeria, but Lagos, the former capital of the country, is still the leading commercial and industrial city. The largest economic sector is the oil and gas industry, which has resulted in a high level of dependence on this sector. Nigeria is the tenth largest oil producer in the world and the largest within Africa. So far, however, the country has not been able to use its wealth in oil long enough, so that 40% of the population still lives in absolute poverty. After the Nigerian economy recovered from a recession at the end of 2017, it has been weakened again since 2020 due to the renewed drop in the price of crude oil and the massive economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria also faces massive ecological problems due to its heavy oil and gas production. Severe environmental pollution, the destruction of arable land and forests, the contamination of waters rich in fish and increasing air pollution are causing problems for the country and its people. About 90% of the groundwater is contaminated by crude oil. The government’s extensive renovation project from 2016 has also had little effect so far. For example, only 5% of the contaminated sites identified by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) are currently undergoing remediation. The focus on oil and natural gas has resulted in the neglect of agriculture, requiring costly imports to meet domestic food needs. Although around 70% of Nigerians continue to work in the agricultural sector, the agricultural sector only accounted for 24% of GDP. Another factor is the country’s inadequate infrastructure. A large part of agricultural production comes from small areas of cultivated land. The main industrial crops in the south are oil palms, cocoa and rubber trees, while peanuts and cotton are grown in the north.

Sources:
Das Länder-Informations-Portal (2020). Nigeria, In: Wirtschaft & Entwicklung, GIZ (Hrsg.), URL
https://www.liportal.de/nigeria/ueberblick

Auswärtiges Amt (2020). Nigeria, In: Außen- und Europapolitik, Auswertiges Amt (Hrsg.), URL
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/aussenpolitik/laender/nigeria-node

Dr. Toyin Falolaet. al. (2020). Nigeria, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL
https://www.britannica.com/place/Nigeria

Amnesty International (2020). Nigeria, Amnesty International (Hrsg.), URL
https://www.amnesty.ch/de/themen/wirtschaft-und menschenrechte/fallbeispiele/nigeria/dok/2020/shell-kein-ende-in-sicht

Tanzania

Area
945,087 km²

Population
63,050,916 (2020)

 

Captial
Dodoma

Official language
English, Swahili

 

Currency
Tanzanian Shilling

Tanzania is a state in East Africa and lies on the Indian Ocean. It borders Uganda and Kenya to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south.

Since 1974 the capital has been Dodoma, but most government administrations are still based in Dar es Salaam, which is the largest city and at the same time the largest port in the country. The United Republic of Tanzania is comprised of the mainland as well as the semi-autonomous Zanzibar and consists in total of 30 regions. Tanzania’s population is estimated to include more than 120 different indigenous African peoples, most of whom are now grouped into larger groups. Rural-urban migration, modernisation and politicisation are leading to a gradual disappearance of some of the smallest ethical groups.

The Tanzanian mainland can be divided into four main climatic and topographical areas, giving the country a diverse vegetation. More than a quarter of the country’s land area is protected, so Tanzania’s national parks contain largely untouched and unspoiled landscapes. Due to this and the historically low population density of the people, the Tanzanian mainland is home to an exceptionally rich fauna. With an area of 14.764 km² the Serengeti National Park is the largest in Tanzania and one of the largest nature reserves in the world. It is estimated that more than four million animals live here, with the park having the largest concentration of large mammals living in the wild. In addition to wildebeest, lions, zebras and buffalo, there are over 400 species of birds and many other animals that one can marvel at.

However, in recent years there have been increasing reports of dwindling populations of species such as elephants, giraffes and rhinos. The main reasons for this are the encroaching spread of humans into the animals’ habitat, illegal hunting and poaching. In addition, advancing urbanisation leads to ecological challenges such as air and water pollution. For example, untreated wastewater is often discharged directly into rivers or the sea, which in turn leads to diseases and the extinction of species.

In recent years Tanzania has shown a positive economic trend with growth rates of 7%. According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), however, these have fallen to 4% for 2020. The Tanzanian economy is predominantly agricultural, with around two-fifths of the country’s population working in areas of agricultural production. The variety of different types of soils on Tanzania’s mainland exceeds that of any other country in Africa. While fertile soils can be found in the highlands and many river basins, the clay soils of the inner plateaus are of moderate to low fertility. Since rainfall varies greatly during the rainy seasons, many farmers are repeatedly faced with existential problems. In addition, the still low overall level of agricultural production leads to repeated regional famine in the region. As cash crops are a source of foreign exchange for the country, other goods are grown for export in addition to the most important food crops. Tanzania’s main export goods include gold, coffee, cashew nuts and cotton.

Sources:
Das Länder-Informations-Portal (2020). Tansania, GIZ (Hrsg.), URL https://www.liportal.de/tansania

Kenneth Ingham al. (2020). Tansania, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL
https://www.britannica.com/place/Tanzania

Uganda

Area
241,038 km²

Population
43,252,966 (2020)

 

 

Captial
Kampala

Official language
English, Swahili

Currency
Ugandan Shilling 

Uganda is a landlocked state in Central East Africa bordering on the neighbouring countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania. Uganda shares a border with Tanzania and Kenya through Lake Victoria, the largest tropical and second largest drinking water lake in the world. The Victoria Nile and Albert Nile are the largest rivers in the country.

The 32 native languages in Uganda additionally bear witness to the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity. At the same time, Uganda has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. Nearly half of the population is under 14 years of age. Despite economic and social challenges, Uganda is meanwhile the host country of over more than 1.4 million refugees and asylum seekers (as of 2020) from other African countries, such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda and Eritrea. With officially just under 3.3 million inhabitants, the capital Kampala is the largest city in the country.

Three-quarters of the population live in rural areas. Agriculture is the central economic sector. It employs 72% of the working population, a significant part of them are subsistence farmers who produce primarily for their own needs. Oil production and its export play an increasing role in the Ugandan economy. In addition to coffee and tea, cotton is particularly of significance as the third most important agricultural export commodity. Cotton sales are the main source of income for an estimated 250,000 households. It is generally grown by small-holder farmers through rain-fed agriculture. On average, no more than half a hectare is cultivated. While a substantial part of the cotton is exported, Uganda has a small domestic textile industry. After ginning, cotton is processed by spinning and weaving mills, dyeing works and local tailors from the raw material to the finished product, and textiles are thus manufactured to a small extent ‘from field to fashion’ in Uganda.

Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Uganda, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ug.html>

Cotton Development Organisation – CDO (2015) Overview of Cotton Industry in Uganda, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries (Hrsg.); URL <http://www.cdouga.org/>

Khisa, Isaac (2017, 31 Oktober) Uganda’s textile industry picking up the threads, In: The Independent, URL: <https://www.independent.co.ug/ugandas-textile-industry-picking-threads/>

Kokole, Omari H. et al (2020) Uganda, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL <https://www.britannica.com/place/Uganda/Land#ref37598>

Zambia

Area
752,612 km²

Population
17,426,623 (2020)

 

Captial
Lusaka

Official language
English

Currency
Zambian Kwacha

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Central Africa, bordering on the neighboring countries of Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Zambezi River, the largest river and the eponym of the country, is the Zambezi. It also forms part of the border with its southern neighbour, Zimbabwe. The capital of the country is Lusaka but plans for a new capital in the Ngabwe district of the central province were announced in 2017.

Zambia has one of the highest rates of urbanization in Africa. At almost 55%, the majority of the population lives in rural areas, while an almost equally high proportion of the population of working age is employed in agriculture. Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the population structure is characterized by a high proportion of young people. Almost 66% of the population are under 25 years old. The majority of the population is concentrated on the one hand on the regions of the copper belt, which extends from Lusaka to the south-west and north of the central regions, and on the other hand on the border regions with Malawi and Mozambique. In 2020, Zambia was the destination country of over 54,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic and over 30,000 other refugees and asylum seekers from Angola, Burundi and Rwanda.

By far the most important export commodity of the country is copper. For over ten years until 2014, Zambia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world due to copper mining and exports. The export of this one commodity makes the country’s economy very susceptible to price fluctuations on world markets. Falling prices in recent years have led to corresponding economic losses. In 1994 the previously para-state monopoly in cotton production was lifted. Since then, cotton production has risen, albeit at times sharply, depending on the development of the national currency. The majority of cotton production is now concentrated in the country’s Eastern Province, where, according to the World Bank, around two thirds of cotton production is concentrated. Most of the cotton is produced by small farmers, most of which, after the first stages of processing, are exported.

Sources:
Kabwe, Stephen; Tschirley, David (2009). The Cotton Sector of Zambia. In: Africa Region Working Paper Series No. 124, The World Bank (Hrsg.), URL: http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/958731468350181357/pdf/517130NWP0WPS110Box342044B01PUBLIC1.pdf

Central Intelligence Agency (2020). Zambia, In: The world factbook. CIA (Hrsg.), URL https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/za.html

Hobson, Richard Hamilton et al (2020) Zambia, In: Encyclopædia Britannica (Hrsg.), URL https://www.britannica.com/place/Zambia