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Because Africa is a continent of 54 countries, finding data on how Africans live in terms of consumption and spending is not easy, but a new report from the African Development Bank (AfDB) helps to fill the knowledge gap.
The report is from the AfDB’s Chief Economist department, entitled “A Comparison of Real Household Consumption, Expenditures and Price Levels in Africa.”
Using the South African rand (ZAR) as the benchmark currency, the study found that 11 countries of the countries surveyed had per capita household finance consumption expenditure (HFCE) above ZAR 15,000 or USD 1,800. Nineteen had per capita HFCE of between ZAR 5,000 and ZAR 15,000, while 21 countries recorded per capita HFCE of less than ZAR 5,000.
Algeria, Egypt and South Africa were in the top group. Those in the bottom group of less than ZAR 5,000 include several countries that have recently experienced civil unrest and armed conflict.
Prices differ considerably among African countries, with island countries tending to have higher prices. Cape Verde, the Comoros, the Seychelles as well as Gabon and the Congo have prices that are 40 percent or more than the average for Africa.
By contrast, Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania have prices that are nearly 20 percent below the average for the continent.
Spending on the basics such as food also differs greatly. Food expenditure in Botswana, Mauritius, Swaziland and the Seychelles is more than three times the African average. At the other end of the scale, spending on food is less than half the average in 13 African countries, with particularly low spending in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Niger.
The report represents the successful completion of the 2009 update on the data, and a second update for 2010 data is under way, and the results will be published later this year.