Shaka: Inflating Africa’s Middle Class

The Oarsmen

The Economist published an article last week plugging Africa’s under-tapped middle class consumer market. While the piece is nobly bullish on Africa, it misrepresents the facts about this market—rather, markets—and inflates the continent’s reasonable near-term prospects.

The piece fudges the numbers from a 2010 report by the African Development Bank (see ;charts below). The original report distinguishes between the “floating,” lower-middle and upper-middle classes. The Economist lumps them into a catch-all middle class category. While the AfDB does this with the latter two categories, it is careful to set apart the floating class in its analysis, as this is defined as the segment of the population that can easily slip back into poverty.

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