The Worst Economies in the World

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7. Sierra Leone
> GCI score (1-7): 3.10
> GDP per capita: $1,637 (13th lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 32.6% (44th lowest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 1.7% (5th lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Access to financing

Sierra Leone is among the countries at the heart of the current Ebola outbreak, and the fallout from the outbreak has been exacerbated in part by the nation’s poor infrastructure. Even before the epidemic, Sierra Leone struggled with health issues. A newborn was expected to live just 45 years in 2013, and there were more than 117 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, both the worst rates among all countries reviewed. Last year there were also an estimated 674 new cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 residents, nearly the worst rate. In addition to health-related deficiencies, the country’s telecommunications and infrastructure were rated poorly. Only a minority of the population have mobile phone subscriptions, and the country’s air transport system is particularly bad.

ALSO READ: Countries Spending the Most on Health Care

6. Burundi
> GCI score (1-7): 3.09
> GDP per capita: $665 (2nd lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 31.7% (40th lowest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 1.3% (3rd lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Corruption

Like most of the least competitive countries, Burundi has struggled to recover from a long history of political unrest. The 12-year civil war that ended in 2005 claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and devastated the country. In addition, like neighboring Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of Burundi residents have been killed over the years due to ethnic tensions. These conflicts have likely hindered the country’s long-term development. The quality of math and science education, for example, was rated among the worst in the world. Technology is also largely unavailable to Burundi residents as just 1.3% of the population had access to the Internet, less than all but two other countries reviewed.

5. Angola
> GCI score (1-7): 3.04
> GDP per capita: $6,638 (45th lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 26.6% (29th lowest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 19.1% (41st lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Access to financing

Angola’s economy has grown considerably in the last decade largely due to an oil boom. Angola is Africa’s second-largest exporter of oil, and its GDP is the fifth-largest on the continent. Angola’s 27-year civil war devastated the country’s economy and infrastructure. Although it has recovered much, the country still has a long way to go. According to the African Development Bank, Angola remains far too reliant on oil, which accounts for a disproportionate share of the country’s economy, as well as most of the country’s exports and government revenues. Access to financing and rampant corruption are among the most problematic factors for doing business in the country. And despite aggressive construction projects, the overall quality of infrastructure was rated at nearly the worst among all countries reviewed.