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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.