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NOT RICH YET

Africa’s economic growth still isn’t creating enough of a middle class

Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly
Africa’s growth has yet to lift all boats.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Over the last few years, sub-Saharan countries have seen significant economic growth. Seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world between 2011-2015 come from Africa.

But this economic growth has not quite translated into significant poverty reduction. As analysts point out, the number of people on the continent living under $1.25 a day has risen from 358 million in 1996 to 415 million in 2011.

Tanzania for example, which saw an average of 6% GDP growth over the last several years, has grappled with this disconnect. “At the macro-level, we may be doing well, but it does not touch the unemployed or those involved in the informal economy,” a former cabinet minister told Quartz.

However, the latest data from the Pew Research Centre shows that there has been significant poverty reduction in some African countries.

The reduction of poverty and increase in the ranks of the slightly better-off “low-income” category is good news, but the challenge remains that many African countries have not been able to transition people into the middle class.

Africa is still the poorest region in the world overall: With nine out of 10 people either poor or low-income, the continent is home to 20% of the world’s poor, the data shows. In some countries virtually the entire population is poor or low-income. The picture is somewhat brighter in Seychelles, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco and Egypt, where 20% are either middle income or better off.

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