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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora