10 African Countries Ranked Highest For Human Development According To The U.N.

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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Seychelles is a consistently top performing country in Africa in human development terms. Seychelles President Danny Faure speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, on the island of Desroches, Seychelles on Sunday April 14, 2019. (AP PhotoSteve Barker)

When considering human development, some may expect to see Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya rank high, but none of them are considered among the top 10 countries in Africa.

Ghana ranks No. 14 on the U.N. list of African countries, Kenya 16th and Nigeria is No. 24 in Africa and 157th globally.

The Human Development Index is a ranking released each year by the U.N. to determine the extent of human development across the globe.

Indicators including life expectancy, per capita income, and education are used to rank 189 countries.

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Countries that rank higher on this index generally have a higher level of education, longer lifespans and a higher gross national income per capita than others with a lower score.

Critics of the Human Development Index find the accuracy and meaningfulness of the underlying data to be problematic as it is not specific enough.

For example, the index does not distinguish between countries that have the same GDP per capita but different levels of income inequality, or between countries based on quality of education.

Here are the 10 countries in Africa that rank highest for human development according to the U.N.’s latest index.

10. Morocco

Morocco is 123rd globally on the index thanks to a high life expectancy of 76.1 years and a national annual income averaging around $7,340 per person. Based on its ranking, Morocco is seen as a medium development country by the U.N., according to WorldPopulationReview.

9. Egypt

The United Nations ranks Egypt 115th in the world in terms of development. A gross national income per capita of $10,355 and more than 13 years of expected schooling on average contributes to the Egyptians being the ninth most developed country in Africa.

8. South Africa

Ranked eighth in Africa and 113th globally, the average South African brings home $11,923 per year and goes to school for an average of 10 years. Life expectancy is one of the criteria where South Africa falls short compared to many of the countries ranked near to it on the list. A life expectancy of 63.4 years is less than Egypt, for example, with the average person living to 71.7 in the North African country.

7. Gabon

Gabon appears in seventh place within Africa on the 2018 Human Development Index. A life expectancy of 66.5 and a gross national income per person of around $16,431 gives the West African country a global ranking of 110.

6. Libya

Libya is another of the North African contingent on this list, appearing in the index as the 108th most developed country on the planet and sixth in Africa. While the average Libyan earns around $11,100 per year, which is less than some of the countries above it including Gabon and Turkmenistan, Libya has a life expectancy of 72.1 years which compares favorably with other top African countries in the list.

5. Botswana

Southern Africa is represented a second time on the list thanks to Botswana, the 101st most developed country. An average annual income of around $15,534 combined with almost 10 years of learning at school means that Botswana is Africa’s fifth most developed country. The country’s life expectancy of 67.6 years is below the averages of the countries closest to it in this index.

4. Tunisia

The first of two North African countries in the top four, Tunisia is considered Africa’s fourth most developed on the Human Development Index and it falls into the high human development category. The country is 95th globally and has the third-highest life expectancy for its citizenry at 75.9 years. It also places highly in Africa due to Tunisians receiving the most expected years of schooling at 15.1 years per person.

3. Algeria

The average Algerian lives to be around 76 years old, which is one of the reasons why Algeria is considered Africa’s third most developed country and the 85th overall on the U.N.’s index. Algerians also earn an average of $13,802 per year while they expect to attend just over 14 years of school.

2. Mauritius

The average Mauritian takes home $20,189 per year, far higher than most of the African countries below it in the Human Development Index. In addition, a life expectancy of 74.9 years means that Mauritius is the second most developed on the continent and a respectable 65th globally. The island dropped one place down the U.N. index from its performance in 2018.

1. Seychelles

Retaining the top spot in Africa on the Human Development Index, Seychelles is the 62nd most developed country in the world. A gross national income of $26,077 and almost 15 years of expected schooling combine with a life expectancy of 73.7 years to give Seychelles development bragging rights in Africa.