Photograph — Embassy of Zimbabwe

Africa hosts a significant share of the world’s natural resources; about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, 8% of the world’s natural gas, and 12% of the world’s oil reserves are on the continent. And the value of these resources is as diverse as the resources themselves. So it is natural that the economic spotlight shines on some resources more than others. Crude oil is an example of such a resource because it is one of the most important fuel sources and has historically contributed to over a third of the world’s energy consumption. 

Africa is home to five of the top 30 oil-producing countries in the world, with proven crude oil reserves of 125.3 billion barrels in 2021 alone, according to Statista. It has been the driver of growth for many of its countries like Nigeria, Algeria, and Egypt amongst others. Because of Africa’s salient role in the global crude oil market and how the resource has helped the continent’s economic growth, it is often difficult to shift economic conversations away from it or even be aware that not the whole continent generates oil revenues. 

Many countries on the continent have little or no proven oil reserves. But they are blessed with other economically viable resources, with which they generate their foreign earnings and drive economic growth. 

Here is a list of some countries with the least oil reserves in Africa. 


Rwanda has no crude oil reserve, and since there is no local production, it currently imports all its petroleum products, which it gets from international sources through the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa. The consumption of petroleum in Rwanda stands at 23 million litres per month.

Like Botswana, Rwanda has had to ensure the security of its petroleum supply by building adequate strategic reserves. Rwanda’s petroleum storage infrastructure consists of government and private sector-owned fuel depots equivalent to 72,000,000 litres. 

But this is well below the country’s 2012 petroleum policy targeted at achieving 150 million litres in petroleum reserve, which can be enough to meet the country’s energy needs for at least four months in case of supply shortage or disruption.

The top exports of Rwanda are gold ($644M), Coffee ($66M), Tea ($54.7M), niobium, tantalum, vanadium and zirconium ore ($46.4M), and tin ores exported mostly to United Arab Emirates ($594M), Turkey ($54M), China ($37.8M), United States ($31.4M), and Pakistan ($28.2M).


Oil is a lesser-understood resource in Botswana. The landlocked country in Southern Africa has no oil reserve, so it depends on fuel importation, roughly 21,000 barrels a day from South Africa. Through Botswana Oil Limited (BOL), petroleum products are distributed to International Oil Companies (IOCs) and citizens at no subsidized cost. 

The BOL supply strategy focuses on diversifying the sources of fuel from just South Africa to mitigate the risks associated with having a single source of supply of products. From the 20 million litres depot in Ghanzi to the Francistown Depot currently being expanded from 35 million litres to 95 million litres, Botswana has plans to source some of its fuel from countries including Namibia, and Mozambique, which will lead to a more stable and secure supply base for the country. With these strategic fuel reserves, the economy is guarded against market changes. 

From another end aimed at reducing reliance on imported fuel, Botswana plans to build a $2.5 billion plant to convert coal into liquid fuels. It is a smart economic move considering Botswana has abundant coal reserves of around 212 billion tonnes. The coal-to-liquids plant, which will operate under a public-private partnership model, will produce 12,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline daily, with a planned lifespan of 30 years. 

Botswana’s export strength lies in diamonds ($4B), gold ($87.2M), insulated wire ($81.9M), bovine ($46M), and Carbonates ($40.1M). These resources are majorly exported to Belgium ($951M), United Arab Emirates ($934M), India ($901M), South Africa ($574M), and Singapore ($277M).


Seychelles does not produce oil, gas or minerals, although international companies are exploring petroleum offshore. For example, the Seychelles government and Petro Seychelles Ltd recently signed an agreement with Adamantine Energy Ltd, an oil exploration company based in Canada, for oil exploration in the country’s waters.

The country is to have a 10% royalty on the first batch of oil extracted or a 5% royalty on gas in case of discovery. This will be followed later by a tax of 35% on profit made by the company after all expenses. 

A commercially viable discovery could have a significant impact on the island nation, which has a population of around 90,000 and an economy dominated by tourism and fisheries.


There are no known oil reserves in the country so all their petroleum products are imported from the Durban refineries in South Africa by the oil companies. The oil companies distribute the products to filling stations and to commercial users. In 2021, about $274 million in mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products was imported. The country ranks 175th in the world for oil consumption, accounting for about 0.005% of the world’s total consumption of 97,103,871 barrels per day.

Like many other countries reliant on oil importation, the country is in consultation with key stakeholders to diversify the sources of fuel supply with the aim of enhancing the security of supply in the country by looking into the logistics of importing products through Mozambique. 

The top exports of Eswatini are scented mixtures ($530M), raw sugar ($397M), industrial fatty acids, oils and alcohols ($206M), sawn wood ($60.4M), and non-knit men’s suits ($53M), exporting mostly to South Africa ($1.13B), Nigeria ($143M), Kenya ($130M), Mozambique ($70.2M), and United Kingdom ($55.6M).

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow