Editor’s Note: March 21, 2019

Why are Africans so unhappy?

Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to the UN’s 2019World Happiness Report. The ranking lists 156 countries using survey data from Gallup on citizens’ perceived levels of happiness, covering factors ranging from GDP per capita to social support and life expectancy.

It’s sombre reading for Africa. 

Seven of the bottom ten countries are from the continent, with South Sudan officially being the world’s most miserable place. Not a single African country makes the top 50, with only 8 making the top 100. Mauritius is the highest ranked at 57.

The reliability of measuring happiness is of course debatable, but the ranking reflects the gap between economic development on the continent and other world regions.

Joining Finland in the top ten are other Nordic and Western European countries, as well as Canada and New Zealand. All are highly developed economies with well functioning public and social services. The opposite applies to the predominantly African bottom ten.

The gap between the two groups is illustrated by GDP per capita levels. The average for the top ten is $55,899, compared to just $1,703 for the bottom ten – or 33 times as much.

There is of course more to happiness than macroeconomic development, but the correlation is hard to ignore.

From The Continent

Algeria’s ruling party has said it supports calls for change by mass protests that have forced its ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to abandon plans for a fifth term, shaking the foundations of what was until recently one of Africa’s most stable regimes. The move is seen as a bid to distance the party from Bouteflika, the principal target of public anger. More: France 24


Nigeria’s government plans to reduce its stake in joint ventures with multinational oil companies to 40% this year, part of recently re-elected president Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to boost revenue and kick-start growth. Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy slipped into its first recession in more than two decades in 2016, and was hit hard by the commodities slump.More: Reuters

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The number of political parties that will contest South Africa’s May 8 general election, a new record. More: Africanews

The Global Perspective

The New Development Bank, a multilateral lender established by the BRICS group of countries, plans to lend up to $780m to struggling South African power utility Eskom for infrastructure projects this year. This comes amid domestic power cuts that threaten to hurt the country's already sluggish economy.. More: Bloomberg

Japanese automobile giant Suzuki And Toyota Tsuho, a trading arm of the Toyota group, have announced plans to establish a production facility in Ghana. This comes after Nissan and Volkswagen announced similar plans last year, and amid an investment drive on the continent by global car makers. More: Ghana News Agency

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