Africa Rising Q2 To compare Africa with China or India I knew had to demonstrate that the African economy is just as big, and growing. I analysed GDP data for each of Africa’s 53 countries – I thought, how bad are they? I admit they did look bad, so I instead took the continent as a whole and added each country’s GDP together. This was very exciting, because I found the total figure was bigger than India’s GDP. And if Africa’s total economy is bigger than India’s, and GDP per capita is US$ 200 (about 25% more than India’s), there’s obviously something going on in Africa. The big excitement about India and China is their growing middle class.
I don’t use the classification “middle class” because I find the definitions of it so confusing, I instead classify that market as “Africa Two” (see table). I found this market segment is about 35-50% of the population depending on the country, the same size as the same group in India. When I divided that number by five, the average household size in Africa, I arrived at a range of 60-100 million households classified as Africa Two, which is again exactly the same size as in India and China. I also knew India and China’s young populations are critical: half India’s population is aged below 35, so its economy is being driven by young people.
Africa’s data is the same: 41% of its population is under 15 years old. When I saw this, I realised I had a story. “Africa is richer than you think,” noting that twelve Africa nations have GNI per capita greater than China’s, and twenty greater than India’s. For a continent that is almost universally negatively perceived in the media and often ignored by the business community, it is reassuring to read a more positive account of Africa that highlights the opportunities for profit and growth which do exist.