In this article, we will be taking a look at the 20 most dangerous countries in Africa. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 most dangerous countries in Africa.
Africa has long been plagued by poverty, insecurity and instability, all of which has led to most African countries being counted among the poorest countries in the world. While there are various factors for insecurity in the region including poverty, corruption and the presence of hundreds of separatist / terrorist groups in various countries, the consequences of instability further ensure a lack of recovery. After all, few people prefer to go to countries where instability and insecurity are dominant, as the risk to one’s life is too high, which is also why you will barely find any African countries among the most visited countries in the world. Tourism is one of the most important sectors for a country’s GDP, and African nations being deprived of this income is also actively impacting the situation.
Further, because of the lack of stability in many African countries, particularly the most dangerous countries in Africa, foreign direct investment suffers as a consequence. This however is contrasted by the huge growth potential in Africa, especially in the poorer countries which are achieving high growth rates, and the majority of the countries with highest rate of economic growth in the past five years are from Africa. Hence, it isn’t surprising that foreign direct investment in Africa reached a record amount of $83 billion in 2021. However, even then, the risks associated with investment in a fast growing and potentially lucrative region can be seen in the fact that the continent only accounts for just over 5% of total global foreign direct investment. In fact, Africa actually provided the highest return on investment of any region from 2006 – 2011, and yet, is still not receiving a higher proportion of total global investment. In addition to the aforementioned security issues, a lack of infrastructure and low capital also contribute to hesitance by foreign investors, while low institutional capital (referring to weak judicial systems, weak property rights and weak security) further add to the stigma surrounding investment in Africa.
Even then, there are several companies making major investments in Africa. Mozambique, one of the most dangerous countries in Africa, still saw investment flows increase by a an incredible 68% to $5.1 billion, with Globeleq Generation, a UK-based power producer planning to build plants in Africa worth a total of $2 billion. Meanwhile, South Africa, another one of the most dangerous countries in Africa, saw the announcement of a $4.6 billion clean energy project which is sponsored by Hive Energy, another UK-based company. Meanwhile, a U.S. company called Vantage Data Center is also aiming to build a $1 billion campus. In just West Africa, foreign direct investment increased by 48% to $14 billion where a resurgence in the oil and gas sector saw Nigeria’s flows double to $4.8 billion.
While the aforementioned investments are great news and showcase Africa’s potential, risks in the region were also evident in 2022, as foreign direct investment in the year fell to just $45 billion, even as Egypt, one of the richest countries in Africa, saw its investment doubled. Ethiopia, where a civil war in the Tigray region only ended in November 2022, saw its FDI fall by 14%, despite being the second largest such recipient in the entire continent.
The oil and gas sector is one of the most important sectors in Africa and provides perhaps the best opportunity for investment in the region, even in the most dangerous countries in Africa. Total capital expenditures in the sector in Africa reached $5.1 billion in 2022, a 50% increase from 2020, and an important indication is the fact that just one-third of this total investment is from African companies, and an area bigger than both France and Italy combined has been licensed from 2017 onwards. The potential lucrativeness of investing in a region full of valuable deposits has been underlined with Shell plc’s (NYSE:SHEL) oil discovery in the Orange Basin off the coast of Namibia. In fact, Shell plc’s (NYSE:SHEL) oil discoveries have continued and in July 2023, successfully completed the drilling of a fourth exploration well in Namibia. Similarly, TotalEnergies SE (NYSE:TTE) also made a significant oil discovery in Namibia. Expanding on it, the company stated “This discovery offshore Namibia and the very promising initial results prove the potential of this play in the Orange Basin, on which TotalEnergies owns an important position both in Namibia and South Africa” said Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice President Exploration at TotalEnergies. “A comprehensive coring and logging program has been completed. This will enable the preparation of appraisal operations designed to assess the commerciality of this discovery.” Meanwhile, another one of the largest oil companies in the world in Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) is considering an investment worth $15 billion in Angola for the development of hydrocarbon reserves.
To determine the most dangerous countries in Africa, we considered the ranking of each country based on the Global Terrorism Index, reverse ranking on the Global Peace Index and ranking based on its homicide rate from 2010 to 2021, which was taken from the World Bank. We then gave 40% weightage each to the first two criteria and 20% to the latter. You will notice a lot of the countries coincide with the most dangerous countries in the world in 2023.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 44
Global Peace Index Ranking: 53
Homicide rate ranking: 77
We kick-off our list with Djibouti, where armed attackers managed to kill 7 soldiers in October 2022, and the country saw the biggest decline in its terrorism score in the entire region, which shows that the government needs to do more to fight off the threat by terrorists.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 38
Global Peace Index Ranking: 54
Homicide rate ranking: 83
While Tanzania has not suffered a major terrorist incident since the U.S. embassy in the country was bombed back in 1998, smaller terrorist threats have continued to plague the country. However, increasing focus of the government on counterterrorism and working with the U.S. in this regard has helped counter the threat especially from an offshoot of IS known as ISIS-M.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 48
Global Peace Index Ranking: 60
Homicide rate ranking: 43
Despite declining consistently, Uganda’s homicide rate is still quite high, while terrorism threats in the country have combined with the homicide rate to place it among the most dangerous countries in Africa.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 16
Global Peace Index Ranking: 29
Homicide rate ranking: 164
Despite being one of the richest countries in Africa, Egypt has faced terrorism from IS affiliate groups even as IS’s influence declined significantly in the last four years.
16. South Africa
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 79
Global Peace Index Ranking: 43
Homicide rate ranking: 8
South Africa has one of the highest homicide rates in the entire world, and is one of the few countries where the homicide rate has actually increased recently even as most other countries have seen a decline. The soaring murder rates have been attributed to a lack of direction from the government in attempting to control murder rates.
15. Burkina Faso
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 2
Global Peace Index Ranking: 14
Homicide rate ranking: 218
Ranked only behind Afghanistan in the Global Terrorism Index, Burkina Faso recorded the highest increase in deaths from terrorism in the entire world and its 1,135 deaths due to terrorism in 2022 is the highest for any country in the world. In fact, no other country exceeded even 1,000 deaths.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 39
Global Peace Index Ranking: 32
Homicide rate ranking: 103
Despite obtaining a significant improvement in peace, Burundi is still one of the most dangerous countries in Africa, though the improving trajectory seems to be great news for the nation.
13. South Sudan
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 93
Global Peace Index Ranking: 12
Homicide rate ranking: 30
South Sudan has been consistently ranked among the least peaceful countries in the world, with over 42% of its total population displaced because of high levels of violence in the country. It is also considered to be one of the least peaceful countries in Africa, despite not facing a terrorism threat unlike most African countries.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 12
Global Peace Index Ranking: 40
Homicide rate ranking: 129
One of the most dangerous countries in Africa, additional FDI as discussed in the intro will likely play a part in transforming Mozambique’s fortunes. Even in terms of terrorism, Mozambique has seen a marked decline and recorded its biggest fall in deaths due to terrorism in a single year in 2021.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 20
Global Peace Index Ranking: 34
Homicide rate ranking: 117
One of the biggest terroristic threats faced by Kenya is the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, though its operations are mostly focused in Somalia. There were 51 deaths attributed to the terrorist group in 2022 in Kenya alone.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 27
Global Peace Index Ranking: 52
Homicide rate ranking: 63
Not only is Togo one of the most impacted economies because of violence, it also faces a high homicide rate and in an unintentional incident, Togo’s military aircraft accidentally targeted and killed seven teenagers in July 2022.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 56
Global Peace Index Ranking: 7
Homicide rate ranking: 66
Ethiopia has seen one of the worst conflicts in the last decade in its Tigray region and even though a ceasefire was finally implemented in November 2022, it has seen one of the highest levels of conflict-related violence in Africa, mainly because of the war between the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, one of the biggest conflicts in the last half decade.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 11
Global Peace Index Ranking: 18
Homicide rate ranking: 122
While deaths from terrorism have declined since 2020 in Cameroon, there is still plenty of violence present in the country because of armed forces as well as government forces.
7. Central African Republic
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 55
Global Peace Index Ranking: 20
Homicide rate ranking: 23
Sub-Sahara Africa has seen the largest increase in terrorism deaths which rose by 8%, and Central African Republic is one of the countries responsible for this. It is also one of the countries facing the highest economic impact because of violence.
Global Terrorism Index Ranking: 10
Global Peace Index Ranking: 15
Homicide rate ranking: 116
Niger recently saw its President, who had the support of the U.S. and Europe, be deposed by the military, which is likely to further increase instability in the country. However, Niger has also been the victim of a failure to deal with violence in Northern Mali, which has now spread to Niger and the country has seen over a hundred deaths from terrorism according to the Global Terrorism Index.
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Disclosure: None. 20 most dangerous countries in Africa is originally published on Insider Monkey.