Unpacking the aspirations of Ghana’s middle class

Grace is a 32-year-old Ghanaian who has been self-employed ever since she left school at 16. Despite the West African oil producing country’s many challenges, Grace is generally positive about the future. She anticipates her financial position to improve over the coming years. Some of this extra income she plans to spend on holidays to America and Europe.

The above fictional character is a typical middle income consumer in Ghana, according to a recent study by Standard Chartered bank, in partnership with research consultancy GlobeScan.

The study offers insight into the aspirations of middle class consumers in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Last week How we made it in Africa looked at consumer trends in Nigeria; this week it’s Ghana’s turn.

To produce the study, researchers interviewed 1,000 middle class Ghanaians. Respondents were classed as “affluent” or “emerging affluent” based on their household belongings and activities such as accessing the internet. Affluent Ghanaians comprise approximately 10% of the population, while the emerging affluent make up about 35%.

Employment status: Some 42% of middle class Ghanaians surveyed said they are self-employed. Other areas of employment include: public sector (14%), local companies (8%), family businesses (5%) and international firms (2%). Of those surveyed, 14% are students while 10% are unemployed.

Confidence in growth prospects: Most middle class Ghanaians are not entirely convinced about their country’s growth prospects. Only 16% indicated that they have “complete confidence” in Ghana’s future economic growth, while 32% said they have “some confidence”.

Feeling wealthy: For 55% of Ghanaians, increasing the amount they save is the activity most likely to make them feel wealthier. Living in their desired neighbourhood (19%) and owning products such as cars, clothing and technology (19%) also contribute to a sense of wealth.

Anticipated spending: The vast majority (93%) of the middle class plan to make improvements to their housing conditions over the coming five years. Other activities on top of the spending list include: buying the latest technology goods (89%), donating more to charities (89%), purchasing new household products and appliances (86%) and spending more on clothing and accessories (80%).

Internet use: Some 43% of respondents indicated that they use the internet for social networking, making it the top online activity. Other reasons for using the internet include: studying/education (31%), keeping up to date with news and current affairs (29%), shopping (3%) and online banking (3%).

Travel plans: In terms of personal travel, most (68%) plan to explore their own country, followed by the Americas (28%) and Europe (26%). For business purposes, the majority of respondents expect to visit the Americas (26%) and Europe (24%), as well as travelling within Ghana (20%).

Visit How we made it in Africa next week Monday for more insight into middle class consumers in Kenya.

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