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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Nigeria’s middle-class: How we live, and what we want from life

A recent survey by Renaissance Capital of the booming Nigerian middle-class delivered some interesting results.

The survey was conducted with 1,004 middle-class Nigerians, with an average monthly income of between N75,000 and N100,000 (US$480 and $645). Participants were drawn from the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. 70% of respondents were aged 40 and younger.

Renaissance’s findings when you continue...but pause a bit before continuing. How can 75k/100k be middle-class in Nigeria? What is half a million to a million? Now you continue...

Renaissance’s findings...

Education and work: 92% of middle-class Nigerians surveyed have a post-secondary education or have studied at higher institutions of learning. 99% have one or more members of their household in full- or part-time work. The majority (76%) work in the public sector, while 22% work in the private sector. About half of the middle-class population are skilled professionals in paid employment, while 38% are entrepreneurs. Only 2% are employed in other forms of work or are part of a NGO.

Attitudes: The report notes that middle-class Nigerians are concerned about the welfare and upbringing of their children and the values they grow up with, hence the overall sentiment that children must complete high school in a Nigerian institution. However, more than half aspire to send their children overseas to complete their tertiary education. 35% would like their children to become engineers and 34% would like them to become doctors.

Car ownership: 45% of middle-class Nigerian households do not own a car. The average number of cars per middle-class household is 0.8.

Banking: Although banking penetration in Nigeria is generally low, this is not the case among the middle-class. The survey found that 94% of middle-class Nigerians currently have or have previously had a bank account. Just over 9% have owned a credit card, although 42% plan to apply for one in the future. The main reason to have a bank account is to save money (81%). Other reasons are to withdraw money when you need it (42%) and to keep money in a safe place (40%).

Spending habits: Renaissance posed the following question to respondents: What would you do with a large sum of money that you intend to spend immediately? 67% of respondents said they would purchase land or property, while 36% would spend it on education for either themselves or their family. Slightly more than 24% said they would risk it on the stock market and 21% would invest it into agricultural or trading activities.

Household appliances: The vast majority of middle-class households own a refrigerator, electric fan, electric iron and DVD player. However, only 42% own a fridge freezer, and only 8% a washing machine. Between 20% to 25% of respondents plan to buy microwave ovens, washing machines, and dishwashers in the coming year, and another 20% to 25% plan to do so within five years.
Travel: Only 15% of the Nigerian middle-class have travelled abroad. The four most popular international travel destinations are the UK, US, Dubai and South Africa.

Retail outlets: The majority shop at open-air markets (73%) as well as use convenience stores (62%).
Media: Television (98%) and radio (95%) are the most popular sources of information for middle-class Nigerians, while 78% read newspapers and 48% use the internet.
Perceptions about Nigeria: The majority (76%) of respondents are positive about the future of Nigeria, while 17% said they are not and 7% were not sure. Nigeria’s poor electricity supply, unemployment and inadequate infrastructure are key concerns for the middle-class.

Implications for business
So what are the implications of the survey for companies operating in Nigeria?
Renaissance says there is potential for consumer lending formats in Nigeria. “We see great scope here, as white goods ownership is still low: only 42% of the middle class own a fridge freezer, and only 8% a washing machine. This may be influenced by availability and affordability. If retail chains can offer 12-36-month credit for white goods purchases, we would expect an increase in white goods ownership. There is potential for consumer finance businesses to thrive,” notes the report.
Nigeria also holds considerable opportunity for more formal retail outlets and online commerce. “The majority still shop in open-air markets. Formalised retailing is still in its infancy in Nigeria, which we see as positive for Shoprite, Walmart and others. As noted, 48% of the population has internet access, so internet shopping also has potential.”

Many of the Nigerian middle-class aspire to be home owners, which means there are good prospects for building materials and equipment companies. “The growing population and rising levels of wealth both have positive implications for housing development.”

Renaissance also notes that because mortgage levels in Nigeria are very low, there are plenty of opportunities to provide affordable loans for future housing needs.

In the area of education, the high level of interest in overseas education among the Nigerian middle-class presents potential for those planning to establish local campuses, as well as for strategic partnerships with home-grown institutions.

What do you think?



  • At 8 October 2011 at 10:25 , Anonymous sakara said...

    how can 75k-100k be middle class in Nigeria.....it's poor and no other name for it...what can that amount sustain for a family man obviously not pay his children's school fees nor take care of his car f he ever saved money to buy 1....this s a blind judgement, i totally disagree

  • At 8 October 2011 at 11:08 , Blogger Sam Meera Banks said...

    What do I think?

    First of all, I cannot believe that their idea of the middle class was based just on the amount of money people earned in a month as their population sample. Did they think that some of these people could be poor and still be earning that amount of money. This comes down to spending habits, amount of commitments and family size. I know a family that if the father earns N100,000, none of his children would be able to go to schools.

    The sample size in the second place is so small. This survey cannot be used at all for generalisations especially when it comes down to talking about just Lagos, not to talk of the whole of Nigeria.

    I also thought the main reason of being part of the middle class was owning at least one car or bike.

    Well, the only thing this survey shows to me is that my perception of Nigerian middle class differs from theirs apparently because I have always considered my family to be middle class, but with what this survey shows, we should be "stinkingly" rich. *smh*

  • At 8 October 2011 at 11:38 , Anonymous *ajalahtravel* said...

    At least this nyash survey gives me hope for Nigeria.


  • At 8 October 2011 at 12:21 , Blogger Ejyk said...

    *FOR THE RECORDS* Nigeria has no middle class....its either yu are rich or yu are poor. SIMPLE

  • At 8 October 2011 at 12:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    who ever conducted this survey ought to be hung by the balls or clit.
    How can you call 7k middle class?
    That is poverty,pure and simple.
    anything less than 400k can not be called middle class and that 400k must exclude lagos as place of residence.
    secondly, the extended family system makes it difficult to just use income as a measure of middle class.I know folks who earn 400k a month and due to the fact that they have siblings in the university and parents in the village that they are solely responsible for you dare not term them middle class.
    Anyway, Renaissance Capital has always seemed a dodgy firm to me.
    If McKinsey or Bain conduct this survey i will pay more attention to it.
    Renaissance seems a cash and carry firm to me.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 12:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    only 42 percent of the middle class in Nigeria own a fridge???
    Renaissance Capital are high on Rum!!!

  • At 8 October 2011 at 12:51 , Anonymous Kunle said...

    75k-100k can neva b used 4 to grade middle class people esp in Lagos for dat matter. The only parameter pertaining to middle class is the education aspect where they would want to send their children to schools overseas, but the rest I don't think so.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 14:55 , Anonymous Niyi said...

    In a land where everybody is blind, the one with one eye is usually made a king. In a country where over 75% of the population live on less than $10 a day, anyone lucky enough to earn more than $50 a day is suddenly " middle class". Nigerians never cease to make me laugh. Less than $6,000 a month is "middle class"? Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee! That's working / hustling / starving / slaving class. In this day and age, to be "middle class" and above in Nigeria, earn $10k+ a month before calling yourself "middle class". Nigerians seem gullible and forever deluded and have a long way to go. Stop allowing your government sponsored collaborators to fool you people with meaningless statics while they empty you national wealth into their private offshore accounts scattered across the globe. I cry for my beloved country, Nigeria.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 14:58 , Blogger Ada said...

    Agreeing with Sam Meera...dat 75k-100k income range cannot rep av mid-class household incomes in naija, esp for families wit kids...wetin dem wan carry dat one do... what were deir criteria for defining d middle class, n dat population sample of 1004 people is just laughable... that sounds like d sample for my M.Sc thesis. Lagos alone had a population btw 15-17million, a large percent of which belong to the working class, so dat sample might rep one or two local governemt areas in lagos but anything beyond is a joke.... I love resesarch, them fit hire me if dem need extra hands.

    Also they didnt answer what percent of d so-calld naija's population fell into this their middle class, and where de put households with incomes up to n over a million.... In my mind they have raised more questions than they have given answers...make I go begin read abeg.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 15:41 , Anonymous Yemi said...

    I'm not too sure about Nigeria, but in the UK, being in the middle class depends on your education and other things, not how much you earn. Someone who studied to be a doctor in the UK would be classified as middle class. The same applies to those who have a PhD or Masters. I'll give an example of someone like David Beckham who didn't really study, but is a mulit-millionaire and is in no way classified as middle class. People in the UK will call him working-class even though he is rich.

    Another thing is that I don't think the sample is large enough. You can't take 1,004 "middle-class" Nigerians and generalise it to over 154 million Nigerians.

    Lastly, I'm not too sure about the idea of letting people have credit cards. Buying on credit is what put the UK economy in the state that it's in already. Banks were giving money to people they very well knew could not afford to pay it back. And if you tell yourself the truth, many Nigerians (I didn't say all o!) have a bad habit of borrowing and not paying back. However, I do see a bright future in Nigeria. They just need to learn from the mistakes that other countries have made and try not to repeat it.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 16:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    how can a survey about Nigeria's middle class be based on 1004 people?!


  • At 8 October 2011 at 19:23 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My mother earns around that, we are 3. Am in year 2,my elder sis year 3 and my younger brother ss3. N.B she is a single mum, and we still pull through. It sll goes down to how much you spend. Many ppl spend alot of money,what could be saved up for good use. And if you think that ppl like that are poor,wait till you see those that earn 40. Just so you know my mum is educated,she has a bachelors degree.
    This is nigeria i know ppl with masters degree who earn less than her at her work place,things dont work like they are supposed to. So yes with that amount ppl,a whole family can survive.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 19:47 , Anonymous Zizi said...

    When most of the population lives in less than $2 a day which equates to less than $64 a month, it makes sense that that is the middle class in Nigeria. Let us not be fooled with our privileged. If you're reading this comment, you are privileged. Having access to a computer, be it personal, business, school or cafes is a privilege. Cause some people can't afford it.

  • At 8 October 2011 at 22:21 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is a bus conductor or market trader or armed robber with no education but earns $1million a year middle class?


    Though he or she is rich, he or she is not middle class. Income alone cannot and does not make you priledged "middle class". Due to the daily amount Nigeria's super rich make on a daily badis, to be middle class now in Nigeria, you have to have a minimum of a masters degree and constently earn at least $1million per year. Cry. Bet you thought you were "middle class"? You are working class. Now, go back to your job or consider yourself sacked! LOL.

  • At 9 October 2011 at 00:47 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    so my salary of $12k makes me way above middle class?? this 'research' is flawed on so many levels. *hiss*

  • At 9 October 2011 at 03:30 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When speaking of African countries, underdeveloped countries, it's only poor or middle class. If an average person does not have simple things, like fridge, can't afford basic necessities, it's still considered poor.
    So, those foolish politicians ARE NOT wealthy bcos it's government money, not self made.
    people like Dangote, or some so called billionaires in Nigeria are considered advanced wealthy middle class.
    A country, where there's no climbing the ladder to the top. It's either you know somebody esp in the government to get rich or you are screwed.
    That's the reason, all the wealthy people in Nigeria are all in the same circle, son or relatives or friend to some kind of politician.
    When talking about rich here, I'm referring to millionaires, multi, and billionaires.

    You cannot compare the definition of middle class in UK, US to Nigeria. First of all, basic necessities are already provided. Electricity, water, food, etc
    Of course, a doctor or a lawyer will somewhat be considered middle class here, bcos that will take him/her far. But, an average doctor or lawyer in Nigeria still lives poor unless he's working for some big time company and has connection. The first time I visited Nigeria with a friend of mine, we stayed with her uncle who is a medical doctor. No disrespect but his house was just an advanced mud house. Seriously? so, you want to call that middle class.
    Education CANNOT be used to define middle class in Nigeria because many people are educated but can't get a job, if they do, it's not paying well enough. Nigerians, WAKE UP, use your COMMON SENSE, and stop allowing the government to sell nonsense to you. Nigerian politicians, you time is coming one day, and there will be an end to your BS.

    Linda, you think you are big girlz just bcos u dey drive Toyota Camry. Before, ur head blow finish you are just middle class. I respect your hustle, just saying.

  • At 9 October 2011 at 07:03 , Blogger Myne Whitman said...

    This is the start of some interesting discussions. I think their definition of Middle class is quite narrow, 75k - 250k might have worked better. We should bear in mind that the minimum wage in naija was just recently made 18,500. I would have liked to see the type of families included, single parent, monogamous or polygamous; urban or rural, etc. Where did they poll their sample (and yes it is too small), which city, as this will help to judge how representative it is. But kudos for taking the first step.

    @Linda, half to a million a month is definitely upper class. Even here in the US over $6,500 a month (75k) is upper middle class. Starting salaries (middle class) are between 30k to 45k a month.

  • At 9 October 2011 at 18:33 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    A sample size of 1004 is not small, look at the Gallup polls in the United States a country with 300 million plus people. Here is an example from their website -

    "Gallup tracks daily the percentage of Americans who approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,500 national adults; Margin of error is ±3 percentage points."

  • At 9 October 2011 at 23:45 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    And there she was thinking she's middle class. She even announced it. You are only middle or upper class amongst your own people. You earn less than $15,000 per year. You are fooling yourself. How are you middle class? You no serious. All you do is hide behind anonymous comments and use your blog to attack people in the entertaiment industry. We know about you and your method.

  • At 10 October 2011 at 01:28 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    First of all, there is no such thing as middle class in Nigeria...you're either rich or poor, but come to think about it...I live in the U.S and made more than this per month even before graduating college. In NIgeria, it should be called THE RICH, THE MANAGING, AND THE POOR. SHIKENA!

  • At 10 October 2011 at 12:58 , Anonymous Abujakenneth said...

    Pls tell Renaissance Capital that they can conduct better survey that will involve hundreds of thousands of people using your blog. Again if my annual income is in the region of N6m and I am a lawyer as well as a farmer in what class can I be classified?


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