NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – The term middleclass has become synonymous with anything pricey being launched in the country. Dozens of malls have opened doors targeting the so-called middleclass. Real estate companies are using all manner of ways to lure the middleclass.
Technological devices have also not been left behind with almost every manufacturer launching a device stating that it is targeting this category of the population.
Even the government is speaking about the middleclass through its ambitious Vision 2030 Blueprint where it plans to elevate the country into the status by that year.
That begs the question, who is the middleclass? What do they do? How much do they earn?
“The middleclass to me is anyone with a bank or an insurance job, earns over Sh100,000 per month and lives in Kilimani or Kileleshwa or similar neighbourhoods,” says Peter Kamau, a 23 year-old Nairobi resident.
He explains that his understanding of the middleclass is people who shop at big city malls, favour shops like Mr Price and go to churches like Nairobi Baptist and Jubilee Christian Church whose parking lot is bigger than an average kindergarten school.
Lucy Nyawira, a hairdresser in Nairobi, says that the middleclass are Kenyans who afford to move from one point to another in taxis and hang out in places like Rolf’s Place on the weekend. They are also very active on Twitter and Instagram.
“The Kenyan middleclass also fly occasionally to Malindi in Jambojet,” she says. Asked where she thinks the middleclass went to school, Nyawira without hesitating says “Daystar University or USIU-Africa”.
Dennis Akaliche, a security guard at a bank in Nairobi’s Standard street says that the middleclass is mainly the kinds of people he sees withdrawing money from the ATM he guards.
“They are the folk that withdraws money frequently. Most drive small cars that can be seen everywhere these days, speak in English and are usually dressed in fashionable clothes. The ladies always seem to have sunglasses, a lot of make-up and expensive phones.”
“The middleclass to me includes anyone who can afford to take a mortgage, owns a brand new car, has proper health insurance not just NHIF and does not rely on monthly pay checks only,” said another Nairobi resident.
– Who they really are –
The middleclass in Kenya is undoubtedly growing, but is it as big as news makers, companies and corporations making it sound? Or are they exaggerating the figure in a bid to cash on their presumed luxurious lifestyles?
Africa Development Bank ranks the middleclass as anyone who spends between US$2 (Sh202) and US$20 (Sh2,025) per day.