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Growing middle class and Africa’s demographic opportunity

August 27th, 2009 Posted in Business, General, Politics, Travel

The Economist writes an insightful article about the direct relationship between Africa’s lowering birth-rate, it’s growing middle class, and the continent’s economic growth.

Africa is still something of a demographic outlier compared with the rest of the developing world. …Its population has grown from 110m in 1850 to 1 billion today. …To get a sense of this kind of increase, consider that in 1950 there were two Europeans for every African; by 2050, on present trends, there will be two Africans for every European.

…Yet Africa is also starting out, a little late, on a demographic transition that others have already traced: as people get richer, they have fewer children. …It is surely no coincidence that the past 15 years have seen Africa’s fastest-ever period of economic growth. Africa, exceptional in so many ways, does not seem to be an exception to the rule that, as countries get richer, they experience a demographic transition.

…The result is a “demographic dividend”, which can be cashed in to produce a virtuous cycle of growth. A fast-growing, economically active population provides the initial impetus to industrial production; then a supply of new workers coming from villages can, if handled properly, enable a country to become more productive. China and East Asia are the models. On some calculations, demography accounted for about a third of East Asia’s phenomenal growth over the past 30 years.


The article presents an interesting view. Africa is going through a renaissance of sorts as the demographics of influencers have shifted tremendously in the past 10-15 years. It’ll be interesting to see the shape the continent and it’s cultures takes in the next few years.

More about the growing African middle class in the videos below:

The Nigerian middle class profiled

Ghana on the rise

Middle class life in Nairobi, Kenya

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