The laptop and Latte class is everywhere. Every time you open any site that does anything there’s a story of Africa’s growing middle class. Everyone seems fascinated by Africa’s growth. We are growing faster than anyone else. The investors are swarming, the middle class is starving and the coffee houses are opening. After all, following the longest time as a “dark continent” it is a relief to have some sort of growth registering for us. We are growing, and that’s something we should be proud of.
And the middle class may be bigger than you think
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB) the African middle class is those blokes who spend between US$2 and US$20 a day. That’s between 170 and 1700 bob every day. Very, very, rough math means if you have between KES 5,270 and KES 52,700 to spend every month. Then you, and another 313 million people(2010) on the continent, are part the middle class. If you have more you’re rich, I’d be forced to assume.
That throws just about everybody, and their dog, in the middle class. And we’re growing. So we are going to have a lot more average people, doing average jobs and making average money and living in average neighbourhoods. This also means that we will have more coffee shops opening, more dingy bars closing and more people feeling that they are entitled to a sense of security, or something along those lines.
But why is this shocking everyone?
I, for the longest time, was taken in by this euphoria about Africa having the largest growing middle class. I searched for reports I tooted our horn, heck; I almost went to Java. I was deluded by this whole “growing” thing. Thinking about it though, isn’t it only natural for Africa to be the largest growing middle class. Africa is the last born of the world. Think about it. We are spoiled – reckless spending, corruption etc is more than enough evidence for that. We keep asking mum and dad for support, or to bail us out of our own messes – or did I get the concept of importing fried meat from Australia, when we could have saved earlier, wrong? We throw tantrums when we don’t get what we want – see Mr Freedom and his sidekick Ruto for this one. We show the most potential to do great things, but we’re lazy. And we are, obviously, growing faster than everybody else.
Think about it. A middle class citizen in the USA has between $136(KES 11,560) and $189(KES 16,065) to use in a day. That’s 9.45 times more on the maximums. So let’s say 10. The middle class citizen in the US has about 10 times more than the middle class citizen here. By now I can see all the economists raising their pitchforks and licking their pens. “What about the cost of living?!”They exclaim. Well, the only reason living costs are so high there is because people can afford it. If there are enough people who are willing to pay more for a product then the product will sell at the higher price, definitely. So maybe it’s about time we stop beating our chest on this whole growing thing and figure out how to grow faster, because we have a lot of catching up to do. Then again, we could always sit back and drink coffee, after all, that’s what a latte is; isn’t it?