How Large Is Africa’s Middle Class?

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Lately, I have been attempting to fully understand “Africa’s middle.” Back in 2010, the African Development Bank (AfDB) defined the term as having three sub-categories.

The first sub-category is the “floating class” with per capita consumption levels ofbetween $2-$4 per day. This sub-category remain largelyvulnerable to slipping back into poverty in theevent of some exogenous shocks.

The second sub-category is that of the “lower-middle” class with per capita consumption levels of $4-$10 per day. This group lives above the subsistence level and is able to save and consume non essential goods.

The third sub-category is the “upper-middle class” with per capita consumption levels of $10-$20 per day.

AfDB concluded that by 2010, the middle class had risen to 34% of Africa’s population—or nearly 350 million people—up from about 126 million or 27% in 1980, 27% in 1990 and about 220 million people or 27% in 2000.

The top three countries with a large middle class were found to be Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, while the bottom three were Rwanda, Burundi and Liberia.

What do you think about this AfDB’s assertions? The Standard Bank has recently disputed the AfDB findings. I will shortly review the Standard Bank’s analysis which was published in 2014.

The attached table from AfDB shows the size of middle class in indidual African countries.

David Himbara

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