The Middle of the Pyramid: Dynamics of the Middle Class in Africa
Some Key Messages of the Study
Strong economic growth in the past two decades has helped reduce poverty in Africa and increased the size of the middle class.
By 2010, the middle class had risen to 34% of Africa’s population2—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. This represents a growth rate of 3.1% in the middle class population over the period 1980 to 2010, compared with a growth rate of 2.6% in the continent’s overall population over the same period.
About 60% of Africa’s middle class, approximately 180 million people, remain barely out of the poor category. They are in a vulnerable position and face the constant possibility of dropping back into the poor category in the event of any exogenous shocks.
The ICP results of 2005 show that per capita expenditure among Africa’s middle class has increased almost two-fold, compared to more marginal increases in other regional economies in the developed countries. Consumer spending in Africa, primarily by the middle class, reached an estimated $680 billion in annual expenditures in 2008 – or nearly a quarter of Africa’s GDP based on 2008 purchasing power parity.
Africa’s middle class is a key source for private sector growth in Africa, accounting for much of the effective demand for goods and services supplied by private sector entities.