Standard Bank reports strong growth in Africa’s middle class
by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – AFRICA has recorded a 230 percent growth in its middle class over the past 14 years.
This is according to a new report by Standard Bank, which suggested there are 15 million middle-class households in 11 of sub-Saharan Africa’s top economies this year, up from 4,6 million in 2000 and 2,4 million in 1990.
The report, entitled ‘Understanding Africa’s Middle Class,” also found that the combined GDPs of the 11 measured economies had grown tenfold since 2000.
The 11 focus economies are Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The report suggests that while the middle class might be smaller than previously thought, two factors should give investors greater comfort- by any methodology Africa’s middle class is growing strongly and Africa’s income accumulation is far more broad-based than had previously been thought.
In the past, the conventional wisdom was that as many as 300 million Africans are categorised as ‘middle class’
Standard Bank senior political economist Simon Freemantle, author of the report, says the new report is cause for optimism among investors as it suggests even greater scope for future growth, and indeed the report forecasts acceleration in the accumulation of middle-class households in Africa.
Commenting on the lower than anticipated total number of middle class households, Freemantle said, “Any view concerning the undoubted ongoing improvement in Africa’s economic performance has to be tempered with the reality that the level of this growth and the nominal size of the continent’s middle class had not until now been adequately measured.”
Freemantle said while the scale of Africa’s middle class ascent had been somewhat exaggerated in line with the at times breathless ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, there was still plenty of scope for measured optimism regarding the size of the middle class in several key SSA [Sub-Saharan Africa] economies.
“Reliable and proven data should if anything spur more interest in the continent’s consumer potential by adding depth to what was previously conjecture,” said Freemantle.
– CAJ News
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