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Sub-Saharan Africa middle class booms

Rene Vollgraaff and Mike Cohen

MIDDLE-CLASS households in 11 leading sub-Saharan African economies, excluding South Africa, are set to balloon to about 40 million by 2030, as the benefits of economic growth are more inclusively distributed, according to Standard Bank.

About 15 million of the 110 million households in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia were lower-middle class and middle class, consuming between $15 (R159) and $115 a day, the continent’s largest lender said yesterday. About 86 percent of households were low income, consuming less than $15 a day, it said.

“Between 2000 and 2014, we’ve seen a tripling of middle class households across these 11 countries,” Standard Bank political economist Simon Freemantle said. “It confirms the idea that Africa has structurally changed, that there has been real improvement in the last 10 years. Not just cyclical, it’s been a real structural change.”

The emergence of a middle class was found to be most profound in Nigeria, which has Africa’s largest economy. About 4.1 million households, or 11 percent of the west African nation’s population, consume $23 to $115 a day. That is six times more than in 2000.

East Africa lagged other regions, with more than 90 percent of households in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya defined as low income.

“Africa remains predominantly low income,” Freemantle said. “A big part of these households are exceptionally vulnerable, exceptionally marginalised and very far from being able to allocate any kind of spending to what would be defined as non-staple. These are people clinging to survival, and that’s obviously a big socio-economic challenge that needs to be faced very pragmatically.” – Bloomberg

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