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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Myths About African Middle-Class Living

Myths About African Middle-Class Living

Africa’s middle class population is relative
North African countries have a much higher concentration of the African middle class with Tunisia having the highest at 89 percent, Morocco 84 percent and Egypt 79 percent.

Mindelo Cape Verde

Myths About African Middle-Class Living

Many attributes set apart Africa’s middle class from the poor. One factor is the vast majority of Africa’s middle class is not likely to develop its income from agricultural activities.


Numerous economic news outlets report sub-Saharan African countries are expected to prosper in the next 16 years. However, do the growth figures reflect an improving quality of life? High growth rates should be viewed in context, the United Nations (UN) defines middle class as someone living on $10-$100 a day however, and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) defines middle class as someone living on $2-$20 a day.

Summary of Middle Class in Africa, new figures are released every 10 years.


Year
Lower Middle Class Population $2-$4 a day
Middle-Middle Class Population $4-$10
Upper Middle Class Population  $10-$20
1980
51,132
41,443
22,770
1990
73,591
53,425
30,512
2000
105,874
60,499
38,076
2010
198,739
83,189
44,735

Household income figures do not always reflect class status since there is no universally recognized definition of middle class. There are the United Nations (UN) guidelines, so if you happen to wonder if an African family is middle class, you can consult the United Nations (UN) or the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) financial guiding principles.

Victoria and Alfred (V and A) Waterfront in Cape Town South Africa 
Nevertheless, after that, you are on your own to decide if an African family is lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class or in the spectacularly well-to-do range. However, to get us started thinking about financial status, an African household with four people living off $2,920 is considered lower middle class or floating class.

About 60 percent of Africa’s middle class, approximately 180 million people, remain lower middle class or floating class, barely out of the poor category. They are in a vulnerable position and face the relentless chance of dropping back into the poor category in the event of any unforeseen catastrophic event.

In Mauritania although nearly 43 percent of the population is classified as middle class, only 5 percent are considered stable with income levels of over $4 per day. The same situation applies in the three most populous countries in Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt where more than half of the middle class is in the floating category, living on less than $4 per day.

However, the glass is half-full, more than half of Africa's population is under age 35, and they are growing up well educated and technically well informed. As more countries that are African embrace electronic payments through the mobile phone, access to the internet gives a platform for economic growth potential to African entrepreneurs.


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