News / Economy

South Africa’s Black Middle Class on the Rise

South Africa’s Black Middle Class on the Risei
X
May 09, 2013 11:03 PM
The size of South Africa’s black middle class has more than doubled in less than a decade, according to a new study from the University of Cape Town. This emerging class is a boon to the growing economy, but members of this up-and-coming group say many challenges remain. With more, here’s Anita Powell in Johannesburg.
Anita Powell
The size of South Africa’s black middle class has more than doubled in less than a decade, according to a new study from the University of Cape Town.  This emerging class is a boon to the growing economy, but members of this up-and-coming group say many challenges remain.

The Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing says the black middle class is now 4.2 million people strong, up from 1.7 million in 2004.

And many say their status is hard-won.

"I just started to work hard, you know, basically to have the sort of values that will see you putting your nose to the grindstone, giving your best, that sort of thing," Abdeel said.

Spending by Abdeel and other members of the black middle class is estimated at more than $44 billion a year -- eclipsing white middle class spending, which is stagnating.

While the middle class is still a small part of South Africa's 52 million people, researchers say it is significant - especially after decades of inequality under apartheid.

The Cape Town researchers said middle-class households make between $1,800 and $5,500 a month.

Professor John Simpson, who headed the study, says the growth of the black middle class could improve South Africa's economy.

"For me, it is the one shining light in an otherwise quite a dismal world.  And so, our country's economy hasn't grown since 2008 in quite the way we thought it would.  But this group can actually make it grow further," Simpson said.

Thabang Ramogase, a marketer, says companies need to understand this emerging class before trying to sell to them.  

"People think that just because you're black middle class, your destination is to become like white people.  And that's far from it.  If anything, you just want the stuff that white people have.  And some of that stuff; not all of it as well.  There's a lot of mixing and matching.  There's some things I'll take and some things I won't take as a black middle-class consumer.  That's the first thing.  So: don't want to be white," Ramogase said.

The second point, he says, is that the black middle class is constantly evolving.  That has left some marketers and retailers playing catch-up to this young, hip demographic.
 
Yet inequalities remain -- and many South Africans still live in crushing poverty.  And some new members of the middle class say they're already disillusioned with their government.

"It encourages people to be corrupt.  It doesn't encourage middle class.  It doesn't encourage  people to work.  Because, the more you work, the more you get taxed," Pheko said.

However, other up-and-coming black South Africans, like advertising account manager Belinda Mangila, say they’re optimistic.

"I think we still have a long way to go.  And I think the future is bright for anyone in this country," Mangila said.

Today, South Africa's emerging middle black class is asking for more -- more from the government, more from their service providers, and more from the companies that market to them.

Thuso Khumalo also contributed to this report.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: tina from: gauteng
May 10, 2013 10:17 AM
this is due to the huge influx of hard working Zimbabweans in South Africa...Because they are well lot more educated than e Zulu folk there

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.