History, Africa *: Historical Statistics

This guide is intended to help any faculty, graduate, or undergraduate student find resources in the area of African history.

Where to Start


  • Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive – database provides internationally comparable observations on government expenditure, population, territorial size, per capita GDP, trade, infrastructure, conflict events, elections, legislative process and international status indicators for over 200 countries and territories since 1815 with continual updates.
  • Google Dataset Search -- facilitates searching approximately 25 million datasets provided by government, public, and private groups. Users can filter results based on the type of data desired [e.g., images or text]. Data availability is based on the original source being formatted using schema.org standards, an open discovery standard for data on the web.
  • National Statistical Offices -- a directory of country-specific statistical agencies maintained and updated by the United Nations Statistics Division. Also included is a list of countries and organizations which includes a brief history of the country's statistical system, legal basis, the statistical program and much more.
  • Statista – a portal that integrates data on over 80.000 topics from over 18.000 sources from more than 22,500 sources in over 150 countries onto a single search platform, providing direct access to quantitative data on many topics including media, business, politics, society, technology and education. Sources include market reports, trade publications, scientific journals, and government databases.
  • UNData -- searchable statistical database provided by the United Nations Statistics Division that provides access to current statistics. The database covers a number of different areas such as employment, industry, and trade. A single interface facilitates the creation of customizable tables and the use of various filters and search options to sort and locate specific statistical information.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Specialized Data Sources


Africa Information Highway – a statistical data portal that provides tools to gather statistical data and indicators relating to African Countries and to analyze and export them into multiple formats. Users can also visualize socio-economic indicators over a period of time, gain access to presentation-ready graphic,s and perform comprehensive analysis on a country and regional level.

African Centre for Statistics -- an agency of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, this organization provides data and statistics to support evidence-based policymaking and decision-making in Africa. ECA collects, analyzes, and disseminates data on various economic and social indicators, including population, national accounts, prices, trade, and health.

African Development Bank Group Statistical Data Portal -- provides access to statistical data and indicators relating to African countries. The Portal includes multiple customized tools to gather indicators, analyze them, and export them into multiple formats. It can be used to visualize socio-economic indicators over a period of time, gain access to presentation-ready graphics, and perform comprehensive analysis on a country and regional level. Data is available for download in Excel under categories, such as, energy, infrastructure, environment, prices, public finance, monetary data, debt, balance of payments, national accounts, governance, and the financial sector. Site includes a search engine for finding statistics by keyword or by country. Excellent source of data on Africa.

African Economic History Network -- an initiative intended to foster communication, collaboration and research as well as teaching amongst scholars studying the long-term development of sub-Saharan Africa, from the pre-colonial era to the present-day. The site includes free access to data sets related to African economic history and the Working Papers in African Economic History series intended to disseminate research results to other scholars in order to encourage discussion and suggestions before journal publication. Many include data.

African Elections Database -- a comprehensive archive of election results for the 49 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Coverage ends around 2012. Each country's election page starts with a political profile that gives an overview of the political leadership and a brief history of the political situation in the country since its independence. The database is a useful source of historical data of information on presidential and legislative election results, dating back to the mid-1960s or earlier for most countries.

African Elections Project -- established 2008, this is an online portal covering elections across the continent with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists, and the news media to provide more timely and relevant elections information and knowledge while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance.

African Statistical Yearbook -- statistical book series that is a result of joint efforts by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to set up a joint data collection mechanism of socioeconomic data on African countries as well as the development of a common harmonized database. The Yearbook is published in one volume consisting of two parts: a set of summary tables followed by country tables.

openAFRICA – an independent repository of open data on the African continent. Much of the data on openAFRICA has been liberated by pioneering organizations, volunteers or activists, and is an eclectic collection that is far from comprehensive. You will find, however, datasets that are difficult to access elsewhere. If there is crucial data that you cannot be find here or elsewhere, contact the site’s sponsoring organization, Code for Africa, for assistance.

Statistics South Africa – an open data portal maintained by the government of South Africa to produce and co-ordinate statistics on its economy and citizens and to assist in evidence-based policy making. Data and publications based on a variety of census and survey sources are available and may be searched according to key themes, locations, and indicators.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.