'Africa's burgeoning middle class'

At least 313 million Africans–that’s one in three Africans–can be defined as middle class, according to the African Development Bank. If you earn between $2 and $20 a day , working in “salaried jobs or own small businesses,” you’re middle class. But only 123 million of these–those who are spending between $4 and $20 a day–can be considered economically stable, according to the ADB. And, “Tunisia, Gabon and Botswana have the largest middle classes, while Liberia, Mozambique and Rwanda have the smallest.” The BBC combined all this information with a slideshow of the photographer Philippe Sibelly’s project on middle class Africans, The Other Africa. The photo above is of Antoine, “a tennis instructor in Gabon’s capital, Libreville.” Below is a photo of Manal, “a successful singer and TV presenter in Algeria’s capital, Algiers.”

You can see the BBC’s edit of the project here, or view it on the project’s website.



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. Malawi also has a growing middle class. Though the ADB's definition of middle class is too broad. 2 bucks a day ain't much no matter where you are. Still the African middle classes are too often ignored by Western media sources.

  2. I read this reckoning in the FP recently, and I am confused by this. I agree with Justin's comments above. The internationally-accepted definition of poverty is living on less than $2 per day. So if you make one penny more than that, you leap from poverty to middle class? I don't think so. Is there only poverty OR middle class, now? I know that anecdotal evidence is no substitute for scientific data, but I know a lot of Africans who make around $2-$10 per day, and they are not exactly clambering up the ladder of affluence, even if many do have a mobile phone. Many of these wage earners have 5-10 children and adults to support on that income. Yes, GDP per capita is growing and messing around with definitions might make a nice headline, but I don't see it as being an accurate reflection of reality for these millions of people.

      1. Definitely noted, and appreciate that AIAC is bringing this recent report and its categorization up for discussion. My confusion wasn't with your post, but with the ADB's metrics and rosy classifications. Cheers

  3. I don't think people should get too stressed about numbers. Middle class is quite difficult to define in $ terms and when choosing people to photograph I don't ask them how much they make. I look at their lifestyle: small family, a secure job and regular income, social life, leisure activities…
    The AfDB reports has its merits though and as Justin wrote "Still the African middle classes are too often ignored by Western media sources."
    The important thing is to know such a group exist and redress the 'deficit of image' suffered by Africa: the constant visual negativity, to say it mildly.

    This reaserch is a good complement of info: http://www.globaldashboard.org/2011/05/09/are-1-i

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