Economic Dimensions of Inequalities in East Africa

Who’s getting East Africa’s ‘average’ income?

Figure 2 below shows how each country’s GDP in 2011 was distributed to each quintile of the population. It also shows the ‘average’ income (per capita) in each country if the GDP was to have been equally divided across the population.


The chart highlights some interesting insights. First, the extent to which Burundi’s income is so much lower than its EAC neighbours comes across from the fact that with $546 going to each of its richest 20 per cent, this amount was still smaller than the per capita income in Kenya ($808) and Rwanda ($583) and slightly larger than that in Tanzania ($532) in 2011.

Second, the per capita or country’s average income reflects the reality for the upper 20 per cent of the population (the wealthy) in for Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. Due to the large share of income held by the wealthiest 20 per cent of Kenyans, the country average income of $808 in 2011 was
45 per cent bigger than the average income of the country’s second wealthiest quintile. Indeed in 2011, 60 per cent of East Africans had incomes that were below their respective countries’ national averages. In Rwanda and Kenya, East Africa’s most unequal countries, that figure rose to 80 per cent.

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