There’s a new pride of ‘African lions’ to contend with – and they’ve got loads of cash
Suthentira Govender | 2017-05-16 17:37:43.0
The research also found that the African middle class places emphasis on looking good in both the virtual and real world because it signified not being at the bottom when it came to class distinction. File photo
Image by: Felix Dlangamandla
Africa’s urban middle class‚ with their US$400-million (R5.2-billion) a day spending power‚ could even afford to own their own professional sports team if they all clubbed together.
The findings of a ground-breaking study by University of Cape Town’s Unilever Institute and research company Ipsos‚ which delved into the burgeoning urban middle class in sub-Saharan Africa‚ were released in Durban on Tuesday.
It showed that the number of middle class – dubbed “African lions” – stands at around 100 million on the continent‚ and that the group holds a combined spending power of about US$400-million dollars per day.
The study spanned ten African cities and included interviews with a sample of around 7‚500 people.
Researchers found that African lions – earning an average of R200 to R250 each a day – were divided into three middle class segments‚ ranging from “accomplished” (those with savings and less debt) to “comfortable” (those less likely to support an extended family)‚ and the “vulnerable” (with less disposable income due to financial pressure from supporting their extended families).
When it came to brands‚ the study found that around seven percent of the continent’s middle class typically shop for trusted names. While only 48% own their houses‚ 64% have satellite dishes and DSTV.
Social media and cellphones play a major role in African lions’ lives – 77% own smartphones‚ 33% have tablets and 49% have computers. Some have likened their phones to their life partners‚ girlfriends and personal assistants.
The research also found that the African middle class places emphasis on looking good in both the virtual and real world because it signified not being at the bottom when it came to class distinction.
UCT professor of economics Haroon Bhorat‚said the notion of middle class was a “subjective notion.
“What we do know is that stable countries are characterised by a large middle class. They will often be the dominant consumers. South Africa‚ for example‚ has a vocal middle class‚ which feeds into social stability and a large consumer market.”
While the study did not hone in on South Africa‚ James Lappeman‚ head of projects at the Unilever Institute‚ said the country’s black middle class stood at around five million people.
“It’s increasing‚ obviously. As time goes on the numbers will change. There’s government support‚ government employs a huge number of middle class South Africans‚ economic empowerment has been a big thing‚ access to good education‚ these are some of these factors that are driving it.
“Our story is quite different from the rest of Africa… certainly there are similarities from time to time. In South Africa we’re looking at household incomes of between R16‚000 to R30‚000 net salaries per month‚” he said.