Literacy rates among youth (aged 15 to 24) and adults are the test of an educational system, and the overall trend is positive, thanks to the expansion of educational opportunities. Globally, the youth literacy rate increased from 83 per cent to 91 per cent over two decades, while the number of illiterate youth declined from 170 million to 115 million. In Africa however, gender disparities persist. The average literacy rate is 56% for girls and 71% for boys. In Niger, the country with the least literacy rates in the continent, only 9% of the girls between 15 and 24 are literate. In addition to gendered and regional disparities (urban vs rural), it is important to remember that higher literacy rates does not translate into a better education system and there is a need to respond to access to education as well as the quality of learning in different education systems across the continent. Below is the rankings of African countries by literacy rates:

Countries Reference year(s) Total Male Female Rank
Equatorial Guinea 2013 95 97 92 1
Seychelles 2010 94 93 94 2
South Africa 2010 93 94 92 3
Libya 2013 90 96 84 4
Mauritius 2011 89 92 87 5
Botswana 2013 87 87 88 6
Burundi 2008 87 89 85 7
Cabo Verde 2012 85 90 80 8
Zimbabwe 2011 84 88 80 9
Swaziland 2010 83 84 82 10
Gabon 2012 82 85 80 11
Congo 2011 79 86 73 12
Tunisia 2010 79 87 71 13
Comoros 2013 77 81 72 14
Namibia 2007 76 74 78 15
Lesotho 2009 76 66 85 16
Democratic Republic of the Congo 2012 75 88 63 17
Sudan 2013 74 82 66 18
Uganda 2010 73 83 65 19
Algeria 2006 73 81 64 20
Kenya 2007 72 78 67 21
Egypt 2010 72 80 64 22
Eritrea 2013 72 81 63 23
Ghana 2010 71 78 65 24
Cameroon 2010 71 78 65 25
Angola 2013 71 82 60 26
Sao Tome and Principe 2008 70 80 60 27
United Republic of Tanzania 2010 68 75 61 28
Morocco 2011 67 76 58 29
Rwanda 2010 66 71 62 30
Madagascar 2009 64 67 62 31
Zambia 2007 61 72 52 32
Malawi 2010 61 72 51 33
Togo 2011 60 74 48 34
Guinea-Bissau 2013 58 70 45 35
Gambia 2013 53 62 45 36
Senegal 2011 52 66 40 37
Nigeria 2008 51 61 41 38
Mozambique 2009 51 67 36 39
Sierra Leone 2013 46 57 35 40
Mauritania 2007 46 57 35 41
Liberia 2007 43 61 27 42
Côte d’Ivoire 2012 41 52 30 43
Ethiopia 2007 39 49 29 44
Chad 2013 38 47 29 45
Central African Republic 2010 37 51 24 46
Mali 2010 31 43 20 47
Burkina Faso 2007 29 37 22 48
Benin 2006 29 41 18 49
South Sudan 2008 27 35 19 50
Guinea 2010 25 37 12 51
Niger 2012 15 23 9 52
Djibouti 53
Somalia 54

 

Prepared by the The African Economist based on data from UNICEF