News / Africa

    Study Shows Africa’s Middle Class on the Rise

    Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba (2L) sits between UN special rapportuer David Nabarro (L) and Kenyan PM Raila Odinga (2R) during the second day of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town on May 5, 2011
    Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba (2L) sits between UN special rapportuer David Nabarro (L) and Kenyan PM Raila Odinga (2R) during the second day of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town on May 5, 2011
    Nadia Samie

    The study by the African Development Bank indicates one-third of Africa’s 900 million people have more to spend on domestic goods and describes that group as middle class.

    However, the bank includes in the definition of middle class some 191 million Africans it describes as a floating class, who are able to spend between $2 and $4 per day per person. African Development Bank Chief Economist and Vice President, Professor Mthuli Ncube says this group is unstable and is vulnerable to slipping back into poverty.

    "There is a lower part however that we’ve defined as the lower middle class, between $2-$4 per day. That $2 to $4 per day is vulnerable to shocks," said Ncube.

    The actual group of middle class from the bank's study appears to be about 123 million people who spend between $4 and $20 per day and are stable economically. Ncube says this group is the engine that is driving future economic growth in Africa.

    "The middle class is a source of economic dynamism first of all, they are the source of entrepreneurship, in the sense that they are able to open businesses, run businesses, mostly successfully, so it’s a source of sustainable economic growth and development," said Ncube.

    In Ghana alone, possession of cars and motorcycles has increased by 81 percent since 2006. Speaking to VOA following a media briefing running parallel to the World Economic Forum for Africa being held in Cape Town, Ncube said that while there are a number of reasons behind the growth of this particular class of Africans, education has been a big catalyst.

    "In the African continent the main channel into the middle class is education. It’s almost the most critical thing. Africans have been well educated over two generations and that has allowed people to move into the middle class," said Ncube.

    Ncube says the other reason is governance. "Whenever there is enough of an enabling environment for the people to be involved in entrepreneurship, to run businesses, a middle class develops because it is allowing private wealth accumulation to take place," he said.

    Ncube says the middle class has also fueled a rise in Africa’s per capita income and that they account for the majority of car and homeowners on the continent. They are consumers of information technology and mobile telephone services, and many send their children to private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in South Africa, Europe and the United States.

    Tunisia, Gabon and Botswana have the largest middle class, while Liberia, Mozambique and Rwanda have the smallest. Ncube says it’s important for African governments to recognize that there is a growing middle class in their countries; and if it doesn’t yet exist, governments must help, create and embrace this class, as it is a source of sustainable economic development for the future.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora