Africa is the second largest continent in the world, occupying 22% of the world's land mass with a total area of 30,330,000 sq km (11,699,000 sq mi). Fifty four (54) countries occupy the continent including surrounding islands. Africa has a total population of 1,013,779,050, 14.8% of the world's total. The African continent was formed from tectonic movement away from the southern Gondwanaland super-continent, 60 million years ago.   

Mo Ibrahim Prize Winners

2011 Pedro Verona Pires, Cape Verde
2008 Festus Mogae, Botswana
2007 Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique
2007 Nelson R. Mandela, South Africa


Climate and Geography


Africa occupies mostly the tropical zone, the northern and southern tip occupies the temperate zone. Of the 11 million sq. mi. of the continent, 9 million sq. mi. is in the tropical zone. This is defined as 23o 30' south latitude and 23o 30' north latitude, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Forty percent of the continent is classed as dessert or semi-arid. Because of mostly being a tropical continent, Africa's climatic events can be broken into the wet and dry season. Rainfall is unevenly distributed. The continent receives most of its rain during the first 5-6 months of the wet season and receives almost zero during the dry season. 

Forty percent of the continent is classed as dessert or semi-arid.

Desserts  Area 
Sahara  3,500,000 sq. ml, 9,065,000 sq. km
Kalahari  220,000 sq. ml, 569,000 sq. m. 

Though rainfall is unevenly distributed during the year, Africa receives considerable amounts of precipitation, largely due to very moist onshore winds on the western coast that rises over the continent. Eight different types of climates have been noted in Africa.

Climates of Africa 
Tropical Wet
Tropical Wet & Dry (Savannah) 
Semi-Arid (Steppe) 
Arid (Dessert) 
Humid Subtropical 
Middle Latitude Steppe (High Veld) 
Mediterranean (Dry Summer Subtropical 
Undifferentiated Highlands 


Africa is blessed with abundant rivers. Her major riverways include the Nile, the longest river in the world. From Lake Victoria, it runs 3,470 miles(5,584 km). Its second longest river is the Congo River 2,900 mile(4,667 km). The Niger River is the third longest river(2,504 mile, 4,030 km) running through Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.


Major mountains also dot the landscape of the Continent. Kilimanjaro(19,340 ft, 5,895 m) is Africa's highest mountain, followed by Mt. Kenya, Mt. Stanley, Rash Dashen Terara, and Volcan Karisimbi.

Science and Technology


The development, use, and study of modern science and technology remains miniscule on the continent. Only 0.1% of patents registered in the United States Patent and Trademarks Office originated from sub-Saharan Africa.

Aknowledgement of the importance of science and commitment to science began taking place in the 1980s, with the adoption of the Lagos Plan of Action adopted by the Organization of African Unity, predecessor to the African Union. The plan called for African governments to allocate 1% of GDP to science and technology. By 2003, only South Africa, Malawi, and Uganda came close. By 2012, no African country alloted more than 5% of their budget to science and research.

95% of research conducted in Africa is funded by other countries, aid agencies, NGOs, and funders like the Wellcome Trust, setting priorities, priorities that might not be in African interest. Thirteen percent of the world population is in Africa, but she has only .36 percent of the world's scientist. African scientist publish less than 1 percent of material in reputable scientific journals, as of July of 2013. Of the listed 400 top universities in the world, Africa has only four listed universities, and all are in South Africa.


Though science and technology remains miniscule, things are improving. On March 27, 2012 Angola and South Africa agreed to cooperate in developing their research and development capacities. The two countries agreed to share technical research among their universities. 

Technology hubs and districts are also beginning to take hold on the continent. Such hubs include Mauritius's Ebene Cyber-City, Kenya's Konza Technology City, Rwanda's ICT City, and South Africa's Innovation Hub. South Africa's Innovation Hub is the first fully accredited Science and Technology Park, a full member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP).

In recognition of the role science needs to play in the developement of the continent, the African Union has created the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards, in two categories:Earth and Life Sciences Category and Basic Sciences, Technology, and Innovation. In 2012, the award was given to Prof. Michael John Wingfield of South Africa in Earth and Life Sciences Category and Prof. Nabil A. Ibrahim of Egypt in Basic Sciences, Technology and innovation Category.

Although allocation of 1% of GDP has been advocated to increase science and technology on the continent, another solution has been greater economic regional integration and intra-regional trade. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is at the forefront of this approach. They have establish an Innovation Council, headed by eminent African experts, scientist, and scholars.


Ready access to energy is still a problem on the continent. Without an abundance of supply, prosperity remains elusive. Only 30% of Africans have access to grid power. that is 600 million Africans have no access to electricity as 2015.  The problem is acute in the rural areas.

The energy availability problem is ironic since 90% of African countries are oil exporting countries. Kenya in 2012 joined the oil exporting club. The continent has an abundance of riverways( the Nile , the Niger, the Congo, Zambezi, etc) which could vastly increase her hydro-electric output. Niger is a major source of Uranium, the fuel of nuclear power. 


Africa belongs to the AfriNIC regional internet registry. Internet penetration is increasing. As of 2012 , the  continent had an internet penetration of 10.9%, in 2013 it is at 16%.



Major world religions as Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are practice. Christianity is the dominant religion in 19 countries. Islam is dominant in 13 countries. Mauritius has a dominant Hindu population. Africans also practice traditional religions, which can bear similiar traits based on the ethnolinguistic orientation. 


Country Population HDI Gov.
Trans Press. Free  EOD/SAB Internet  
% pop.


55 2.9 141 15/15 13.4%
Angola 12,799,293

39 1.9 119 31/36 4.6%
Benin 8,791,832 0.435 57 2.8 72 2.1%
Botswana 1,990,876 0.663 76 5.8 62 3/10 5.8%
Burkina Faso 15,746,232

52 3.1 57 22/17 1.1%
Burundi 9,511,330

45 1.8 103 44/25 1.5%
Cameroon 18,879,301 0.460 44 2.2 109 34/23 3.8%
Cape Verde 429,474 0.534 75 5.1    15/18 29.1%
Central African Republic
4,511,488 0.315 33 2.1 80 45/35 1.3%
Chad 10,329,208 0.295 29 1.7 132 46/45 1.7%
Comoros 752,438 0.428 49 2.1 29/37 3.1%
Republic of Congo 4,012,809 0.489 42 2.1  116  40/40 5.8%
Dem. Republic of Congo 68,692,542 0.239 31 2.0  146  38/29 0.7%
Cote d'Ivoire 20,617,068 0.397 37 2.2  103  35/39 4.5%
Djibouti 724,622 0.402 49 3.2  110  17/18 7.0%
Egypt 78,866,635 0.620 60 3.1  143  8/2 24.5%
Equatorial Guninea 633,441 0.538 35 1.9  158  32/42 2.2%
Eritrea 5,647,168 N/A 32 2.6  175  43/43 4.2%
Gabon 1,514,993 0.648 50 2.8 129  27/31 6.3%
Ghana 23,887,812 0.467 65 4.1 27 5/11 5.2%
Guinea 10,057,975 0.340 36 2.0 100 42/44 0.9%
Guinea-Bissau 1,533,964 0.289  51 2.1  92  39/46 2.3%  
Kenya   39,002,772   0.470  51   2.1   96   9/22   9.7%  
Lesotho 2,130,819   0.427 60   3.5     18/27   4.0%  
Liberia 3,441,790   0.300 43   3.3    62    26/5   0.5%  
Libya 6,324,357 0.755 51 2.2 156  n/a 5.4%
Madagascar 20,653,556   0.435  49 2.6 134 19/7 1.5%
Malawi 15,028,757 0.385 52 3.4 62 16/24 4.5%
Mali 13,443,225 0.309 53 2.7  30 24/16 1.8%
Mauritania 3,129,486 0.433 43 2.3 100 33/30 2.3%
Mauritius 1,284,264 0.701 83 5.4   1/2 22.2%
Morocco 31,285,174 0.567 57 3.4 127 12/9 41.3%
Mozambique 21,669,278 0.284 52 2.7 82 13/6 2.7%
Namibia 2,108,665 0.606 67 4.4 35 6/21 5.9%
Niger 15,306,252 0.261 42 2.6 139 37/34 .7%
Nigeria 149,229,090 0.423 43 2.4 135 17/14 28.3%
Rwanda 10,746,311 0.385 47 4.0 157 4/1 4.0%
Sao Tome and Principe 212,679 0.488 58 3.0 41/41 14.9%
Senegal 13,711,597 0.411 56 2.9 89 23/12 7.3%
Seychelles 87,476 N/A 79 4.8 8/13 38.0%
Sierra Leone 5,132,138 0.317 46 2.4 109 20/4 0.6%
Somalia 9,832,017 N/A 8 1.1 164 n/a 1.1%
South Africa 49,052,489 0.597 71 4.5 33 2/8 9.3%
South Sudan              
Sudan 41,087,825 0.379 33 1.6 148 25/19 13.9%
Swaziland 1,337,186 0.498 51 3.2 144 11/31 6.6%
Tanzania 41,048,532 0.398 55 2.7 62 14/20 1.6%
Togo 6,031,808 0.428 43 2.4 62 30/38 5.3%
Tunisia 10,486,339 0.683 62 4.3 154 5/5 33.9%
Uganda 32,369,558 0.422 51 2.5 86 12/26 9.2%
Zambia 11,862,740 0.395 55 3.0 97 7/3 5.9%
Zimbabwe 11,392,629 0.140 33 2.4 136 28/28 11.8%


North Africa

North African cuisine reflects its native Berber, islamic culture, and historical connections to Carthaginian, Roman, Arabic, Turkish, and European past. Popular dishes are tajines, rich stews, couscous, bazeen, and ful mudammas. The region uses spices as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, safron, cumin, and caraway. Fruits, melons, oranges, figs, dates, grapes, and peaches are frequent part of the diet.  Couscous and rice are identifying traits. Flat breads are integral part of meals. Meats include lamb, beef, poultry, and fish from the Mediterranean Sea. Olive oil is widely used. Drinks include mint tea and coffee. Dessert ingredients include honey and almonds, common in turkish baklava.

West Africa

West African cuisine can be broken into two broad region, the sahelian zone and the forest zone. In the Sahel, one find rice, millet, and couscous as major staples. Spices include saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Shea butter used for cooking, and chicken, fish, beef (kebab form) used for meat. Tea is popular. In the forest zone, lots of tubers--cassava and yams, orkra, and plantains. Dishes include garri, banku, fufu, and jollof rice. Food can be cooked in palm oil or peanut oil. Spices include garlic, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Drinks include coconut juice, palmwine, hibiscus juice, and sorrel juice. Lots of overlapping occurs.

East Africa

East African cuisine reflects its native African roots and its Indian Ocean connections to Arabia and India. Major dishes include wat, ugali, matooke, and agatogo. Major staples of east African diet include teff, corn(maize), bananas, plantains, millet, and sorghum. Beverages include coffee, chai tea, banana beer, millet beer, and sorghum beer. Spices include berberie, curry, cumin, safron, cinnamon, cloves, and hot pepper.

Central Africa

Central African cuisine connects with almost all regions of Africa. Mwambe is a major dish of chicken cooked in peanut sauce. The region was never completely isolated from the rest of the world. Cassava, a new world plant, is a major staple, introduced via trade with the Portuguese. Millet, sorghum, and plantain are major staples. Meats can include wild game and fish. Food can be very spicey and hot, with the use of hot pepper. Garlic and onion are used in flavoring. Palm and peanut oil are used for cooking.

Southern Africa

Barbeque called braais are major components of Southern African cuisine. The consumption of meat is widespread, which can include cattle, lamb, oysters, and wild game. European influences can be seen in bitongs(spicey dried meat) and droewors(spicey dried sausage). Corn is a major staple of the diet and is used in major dishes as nshima, sadza, and pap. Oshifima in Namibia can use millet instead of corn, in fact before the introduction of corn, millet, and sorghum were the preferred choice, for making similiar dishes.


North Africa

Most Africans have adopted western style of clothing. But Africa has always had her traditional clothing. In North Africa, linen was the choice of Ancient Egypt. Wool was the dominant material of the Maghreb. During the islamic period different styles were introduced. The djellaba is worn in the Maghreb and is unisex. The jilbab is worn by women in North Africa. Jellabiya is worn by men in Egypt. Galabaya and abayas are worn by women in Egypt. Unique to Morroco are the Moroccan kaftan and takchita, all worn by women.

West Africa

West African clothing made use of cotton, silk, raffia, and bark cloth. Cotton was the dominant fiber. One finds the boubou or long rob for men. Women wore the kaftan or buba. Mudcloth was a type of cloth dyed with fermented mud. Kente cloth found in Ghana was formed into a tunic for the asantehene or dashikis--short sleaves shirts for men. Kufi hats are circular hats worn by men. Brightly colored head-wraps are worn by women to express social status and regional heritage.  


Popular Music

African popular music include Mbalax from Senegal, Kuduro and Kizomba from Angola, Soukous from Congo, Highlife from Ghana, Kwaito from South Africa, Rai from Algeria/Morocco, and Coupe-Decale from Ivory coast. African popular music has been influenced by music of the new world, which in itself was influence by African music. African American and Afro-Cuban music especially has been quite influential on musical styles on the continent. New world styles like Reggae, Salsa, Zouk, Rap/Hip Hop, and R&B remain quite popular on the continent. 


Soccer is the most popular sport in Africa.


Africa collectively has a market worth of 2.8 trillion(2015). The average african makes about $1,720 dollars a year(2015). It is estimated Africa has 160,000 millionaires. The numbers are sustenable since africa has been experiencing economic growth since 2002. Between 2002 through 2003, her growth was double the world average. In the previous decade, five of the ten fastest-growing economies were in Africa. Angola grew her economy 21% in one year. In 2015, Africa is expected to have a growth rate of 4.5 % in 2015 and 5.1% in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund. 

The continent has only 10,000 Km of roads for inter-regional trade, a major impediment for development. Transportation cost comprise the largest factor in expense doing business in Africa. Besides such transportation limitations, trade will not be hindered.  According to the International Transport Forum Transport Outlook 2015, trade between African countries will increase 715% between 2015 through 2050, Volume of international freight transport will grow by 200% in the same period. 

Many have pointed out China's increasing presence in Africa, and some have commented on neo-colonial interest in Africa, but China is not Africa's number one trading partner. The number one trading partner in Africa is France, followed by the US, UK, South Africa , Malaysia, and China(2015). China is the sixth largest trading partner in Africa(2015).

Five Largest African Investors by Rank 
 1. France
 2. United States of America
 3. United Kingdom
 4. South Africa
 5. Malaysia
 6. China

 Country, Stock Exchange
 Founded  Location
Botswana Stock Exchange  1989  Gaborone
Egyptian Exchange  1903  Cairo
Ghana Stock Exchange  1989  Accra
Ivory Coast, Abidjan Stock Exchange    Abidjan
Kenya, Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE)  1954  Nairobi
Malawi,Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)  1944  Blantyre
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius Ltd (SEM)
 1989  Port Louis
Morocco, Casablanca Stock Exchange  1929  Casablanca
 Mozambique Stock Exchange  1999  Maputo
 Namibian Stock Exchange(NSX)    Windhoek
 Nigerian Stock Exchange  1960   Lagos
 South Africa, Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)
 1887  Johannesburg
 Swaziland Stock Exchange (SSX)  1999  Mbabane
 Tanzania, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE)  1996  Dar es Salaam
 Uganda Securities Exchange (USE)  1997  Kampala
 Zambia, Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE)  1993  Lusaka
 Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)  1896  Harare
 Sudan, Khartoum Stock Exchange  1995  Khartoum
 Libyan Stock Market  2008  Tripoli
Cameroon, Douala Stock Exchange    Douala 
Bolsa de Valores de Cabo Verde    Ilha de Santiago 
Tunis Stock Exchange  1969   

Works Cited

Martin, Phyllis M. and O'Meara, Patrick (1995). Africa, Third Edition. Indiana University Press:Bloomington and Indianapolis. pp. 10-45.

Africa Competitiveness Report. World Economic Forum. World Bank. <> retrieved 17-Sep-2013

Zondi, Mbali. Digital divide widens in 2013. 11 Oct. 2013. internet retrieved 11-Oct-2013 <>