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Sub Saharan Middle Class


Did you know that the Sub-Saharan middle class worth over $400 million per day and is the world’s fastest growing Middle Class. African Lions is arguably the most comprehensive investigation into the 100 million people in middle class Sub-Saharan Africa.

Besides outlining the size and profile of the middle class, the workshop also provides an in-depth understanding of living conditions, livelihood strategies, aspirations, media consumption, buying patterns, brand relationships and much, much more. The project took over 18 months to complete and consisted of 150 researchers. The research methodology included

  • 10 key sub-Saharan cities
  • 7 500 interviews
  • 40 focus groups
  • 200 video interviews
  • Ethnography

The UCT Marketing Institute partnered with IPSOS to define the middle class as anyone earning over $4 per day and less than $70. A further filter was added to also exclude those with minimal or no disposable income. Using this definition around 60% of the people living in the ten cities included as part of the study would be classed as middle class. The proportions varied across cities. Lagos  was home to the highest proportion of middle class at 68% and Nairobi (which is also home to one of the continent’s largest slums) the lowest at 49%.

The research report provides:

  • An overview of the sub-Saharan economic trajectory
  • Multi-country comparisons ($1 has different spending power across countries)
  • Understanding income sources and expenditure patterns
  • Media consumption and mobile usage
  • The challenge of infrastructure deficits
  • Retail characteristics

The United Nations forecasts that the Sub-Saharan African population is set to explode over the coming years, a phenomenon which economists refer to as the demographic dividend. Combine this with a number of economies growing at a rapid pace, we can expect the burgeoning consumer class in sub-Saharan Africa to keep growing both in terms of numbers and spending power. With economies like Ethiopia growing by over 9% annually, there is a lot of interest in the emerging consumer classes on the continent.

The report can be presented as a full study or tailored to specific countries or sub-regions. 

To access the report, please contact Kulsoem Roode on kulsoem.roode@uct.ac.za or 021 650 4312.