Rise of the middle class in sub-Saharan Africa

The powerful rise in household income in many of Africa's key frontier economies has allowed the formation and strengthening of a substantial middle class. Standard Bank Group’s economic analysts have been examining the growth of the middle class market in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The team found that the number of middle-class households in these 11 sub-Saharan African countries are expected to boom in the next 16 years from today’s 15-million to over 40-million by 2030.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy and has the largest African population, is leading the growth of new middle-class households on the continent with an estimated 7.6-million to be added in the next 16 years. Nigeria's middle class grew by 600% between 2000 and 2014 giving the country 4.1-million middle-class households at present, which is 11% of its total population.

Other countries are also expecting significant growth of the middle-class households by 2030, inlcuding Ghana (1.6-million), Angola (1-million) and Sudan (1-million).

Many of the countries in the East African region are seeing slow growth in their middle class because the majority of those countries’ households are low-income houses. In Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy, only 4% of households could be considered middle class.

East African countries maybe expecting the most rapid population growth rates in the world but are struggling to keep pace with the income advance needed.

Even with the challenges in the East African countries, we are still seeing impressive growth rate from other countries besides Nigeria. Angola has 21% of households in the middle class, Sudan has 14% and 10% in Zambia.

Standard Bank Group conducts research and analysis of various economic issues across various regions of the world. Some research is made available free. For details see www.standardbank.com/research.

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