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Add to Calendar 25/01/2018 10:00 25/01/2018 17:15 Africa/Casablanca African Middle Classes Beyond the Buzz: Economic, Social and Political Dynamics Paris, France “African middle classes”, popularized by the 2011 African Development Bank report, often stand as a symbol of the economic and demographic dynamism of the continent. Their announced emergence feeds into a certain number of expectations in the economic and political spheres: growth driven by domestic demand, potential new markets, democratization, and so on. Yet, the... Paris, France OCP Policy Center false DD/MM/YYYY
Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 10:00 to 17:15

African Middle Classes Beyond the Buzz: Economic, Social and Political Dynamics

Paris, France

“African middle classes”, popularized by the 2011 African Development Bank report, often stand as a symbol of the economic and demographic dynamism of the continent. Their announced emergence feeds into a certain number of expectations in the economic and political spheres: growth driven by domestic demand, potential new markets, democratization, and so on. Yet, the category “African middle class” and associated interpretations must be considered carefully. In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, the notion of middle class remains controversial: consensus is lacking on both, its definition and its criteria. Polysemous, vague, and encompassing, the term can cover a wide range of socio-economic situations. 

This conference aims to understand the major issues underlying the “African middle class” category and, through various case studies, provide nuanced interpretations of the ongoing socio-economic dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa.



10:00 – 10:15

Opening Remarks

- Thomas Gomart, Director, Ifri
- Alfredo Valladão, Professor, Sciences Po Paris & Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center

10:15 – 12:15

Debate on African Middle Class Categories

Global economic and demographic challenges in the past century have spurred the emergence and popularization of the category “African middle class”. The category is in itself problematic, often associated with unverified positive correlations of economic or political development. Nevertheless, it does raise genuine questions with respect to ongoing socio-economic transformations. This session will aim to revisit the implications of constructing the middle class as a category, its definitions, and its uses, as well as to discuss the forms of its empirical reality.  
Clélie Nallet, Research Fellow, Sub-Saharan Africa Program, Ifri
- Abebe Shimeles Abebe, Director and Manager of the Development Research Division, African Development Bank 
- Dominique Darbon, Professor, Sciences Po Bordeaux
- Lucas Chancel, Co-Director, World Inequality Lab and (TBC)
- Dieter Neubert, Professor for Sociology of Development, Faculty for Cultural Sciences at the University of Bayreuth
- Larbi Jaidi, Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center

Afternoon sessions: Political and Socio-Economic Realities of African Middle Classes

Different case studies based on qualitative and/or quantitative methods will be addressed to understand the socio-economic realities of middle classes, as well as their economic and political practices.

14:00 – 15:30

Socio-Economic Dynamics: The Cases of the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Cameroon

Anda David, Research Officer, Agence Française de Développement (AFD)                          

Jean-Philippe Berrou, Economist, Sciences Po Bordeaux (Ivory Coast)
Larbi Jaïdi, Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center 
Yves Mintoogue, PhD Candidate, Sorbonne University – Paris 1 (Cameroon)     

15:30 – 15:45

Coffee Break

15:45 – 17:15

African Middle Classes and their Political Practices: The Cases of South Africa and Ethiopia
Alfredo Valladao, Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center         

Simone Schotte, Research Fellow, GIGA Institute of African Affairs 
Clélie Nallet, Research Fellow, Sub-Saharan Africa Center, Ifri    



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About the Speakers :
  • Jean-Philippe Berrou

    Economist, Sciences Po Bordeaux 
    Jean-Philippe Berrou is Assistant Professor in Development Economics and Member of the Research Unit Les Afriques dans le Monde (LAM) at Sciences Po Bordeaux. His main research projects are based on an interdisciplinary perspective and deal with (i) the dynamics of urban labor market and informal entrepreneurship in developing countries (mostly African countries), (ii) social networks analysis, (iii) the social construction of markets, and (iv) growth and structural changes in Africa. He has led several field surveys in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Colombia. He currently coordinates three research programs: (i) The role of social networks on the access to jobs on Bogota's labor market (Colombia); (ii) ICT uses and the dynamics of informal micro and small enterprises in Dakar (Senegal); (iii) The rise of middle classes in developing countries. 

  • Dominique Darbon

    Professor, Sciences Po Bordeaux
    Dominique Darbon is a professor in political science and public administration at Sciences Po Bordeaux and a member of the Research unit Les Afriques dans le monde (LAM UMR 5115 CNRS). His research focuses on two main issues. The first one deals with new social dynamics of stratifications in Urban Africas (including so called middle class). The second one focuses on Public policy analysis in African countries and states with limited statehood. Together with Jean-Philippe Berou, Matthieu Clément, Eric Rougier and François Combarnous (University of Bordeaux), he jointly coordinates a research on the rise of middle classes in four developing countries (Ivory Coast, Brazil, Turkey, VietNam). With Olivier Provini (University of La Réunion), he is in charge of a three year research program dealing with the analysis of the making and the implementing of public policies in six African countries. He has coedited with Comi Toulabotr an issue of AFD working papers on the African Middle class (available in English) and a book on “L’Invention des classes moyennes en Afrique” (Karthala) in 2013.

  • Anda David

    Research Officer, Agence Française de Développement    
    Anda David is an Economist at the French Development Agency (AFD) in charge of research projects on inequality, poverty and international migration. She completed her PhD at DIAL (University Paris Dauphine and IRD), specializing in development economics, with a focus on migration and the labor market in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. She did a post-doctorate at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, as part of a research project on return migration in a context of crisis. Her current research focuses on the impact of emigration on countries of origin, inequalities and social cohesion and aid effectiveness. In connection with her research, Anda worked on the development of computable general equilibrium models for simulating the effects of migration policies and on migration impacts and profiles. Since 2004, she has worked regularly with various international organizations that are very active on these issues (OECD, ILO and the World Bank). 

  • Florence de Bigault

    Head of Francophone Cluster, Ipsos Sub Saharian Africa
    With a sound knowledge of African cultures and societies, Florence has conducted various strategic studies for major actors of industry, bank and insurance sector, foods, beauty Telco, automotive in multiple African countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast, RDC, RSA, Tanzania, Senegal. She has built relationships and developed contacts with experts and local resources in these countries. She has developed ad hoc methodologies for the clients she accompanies in their market research strategies, such as immersion ethnographic approach and B2B and B2C interviews. Florence leads the 4 Ipsos francophone branches in Sub Saharian Africa and lives in Abidjan and Dakar.
    Education: DEA African Ethnology (Grenoble, Niamey) and DESS marketing (Paris V)

  • Thomas Gomart

    Director, Ifri
    Dr. Thomas Gomart is Director of Ifri. He previously was its Vice President for Strategic Development (2010-2015) and the director of its Russia/NIS Centre (2004-2013).
    His academic and professional background has been closely related to post-Soviet space, but also to wider international issues (security, energy, and digital governance). As Researcher, he is currently working on Russia, digital governance, country risk, and think tanks. 
    He recently published “The Return of Geopolitical Risk - Russia, China and the United States”, Études de l'Ifri, Apr. 2016; Notre intérêt national. Quelle politique étrangère pour la France ?, (ed., with Thierry de Montbrial), Editions Odile Jacob, Jan. 2017; “Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next French President”, (ed., with Marc Hecker), Études de l'Ifri, Apr. 2017, as well as « La France face aux trois grands (Etats-Unis, Chine et Russie) », Revue des deux mondes, septembre 2017.

  • Larbi Jaïdi

    Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center
    Larabi Jaïdi is a former Professor at the Mohamed V University in Rabat- Agdal. His area of expertise includes Economic Policy, International Economic Relations (Europe and the Arab World) and Economy of the Regions. He is a founding Member of the Centre Marocain de Conjoncture and of the Groupement d’Etudes et de Recherches sur la Méditerranée. He is a Member of the Research Group within the Euro-Mediterranean Universities Networks. He has also acted as Adviser to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Economy and Finance. He is an independent Expert to the Moroccan Competition Council and the Moroccan Authority for the fight against Corruption. Mr. Jaïdi is a Member of the Adderrahim Bouabid Foundation Board (Body of Research-Action on matters relating to State Reform) and also acts as a Consultant to Moroccan and foreign entities. He is the author of various publications relating to economic and social development and to international economic relations.  

  • Yves Mintoogue

    PhD Candidate, Sorbonne University – Paris 1
    Yves Mintoogue is a PhD Student in Political science at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. His PhD dissertation that he should defend this year is about the political participation of the subalterns and popular classes in the process of decolonization of Cameroon. From 2011 to 2013, he was member of the research group “Middle Classes in Africa” of LAM / Sciences Po Bordeaux. Within this framework he conducted a survey that his paper is based on.

  • Clélie Nallet

    Research Fellow, Sub-Saharan Africa Center, Ifri
    Clélie Nallet is a Research Fellow with the Sub-Saharan Africa Center at Ifri. Her research focuses on African socio-economic transformations and urban dynamics. She holds a PhD in political science from Sciences Po Bordeaux, where she devoted her thesis to the study of Ethiopian “middle classes”. She has conducted numerous surveys on living standards and lifestyles, mainly in Addis Ababa, Niamey, Kinshasa and Abidjan. Clélie is also an Expert on issues related to the private sector in developing economies and was Deputy Editor in chief of Private Sector & Development magazine.

  • Dieter Neubert

    Professor for Sociology of Development, Faculty for Cultural Sciences, University of Bayreuth
    Since 2000, Dieter Neubert is Professor for Development Sociology at the University of Bayreuth/Germany. He studied education, sociology and social anthropology in Mainz. He holds a doctoral degree in sociology and habilitated in sociology at the Free University Berlin. Current research interests are sociology of Africa and social structure, sociology of violent conflicts, social change and globalization, development policy. His regional research focus is Africa, particularly East Africa (Kenia, Uganda, Rwanda). He has also conducted research in Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Thailand). Selected publications: D. Neubert/F. Stoll, Florian, in “The “narrative of the African middle class” and its conceptual limitations”, in Kroeker/O’Kane/Scharrer (eds.), Middle classes in Africa - Critiques and realities, London, 57-79; D. Neubert 2016, “Kenya's unconscious middle class?”, in Melber (ed.), The rise of Africa's middle class, London, 110-128; D. Neubert 2014, “What is “middle class”? In search of an appropriate concept”, in Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Vol. 2, 23-35; D. Neubert/C. Scherer (eds.) 2014, Agency and changing world views in Africa, Berlin; A. Daniel/D. Neubert, “Middle classes and political instability in Kenya”, in Darbon/Toulabour (eds.) 2014, Les classes moyennes en Afrique, Paris, 155-184.

  • Simone Schotte

    Research Fellow, GIGA Institute of African Affairs
    Simone Schotte is a doctoral Research Fellow at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and a member of the Globalisation and Development (GlaD) research training group at the University of Göttingen. In her dissertation she investigates the economic and political role played by the new middle classes in emerging and developing countries with a focus on South Africa.

  • Abebe Shimeles Abebe

    Director and Manager of the Development Research Division, African Development Bank
    Abebe Shimeles is currently the acting Director and Manager of Development Research Division, African Development Bank. Previously Mr. Shimeles has worked for The World Bank, UNECA, ACTIONAID, and Addis Ababa University in different capacities. His recent research interest includes labour market integration, migration issues in Africa and impact evaluation of policy interventions. He holds a PhD in economics from University of Goteborg, MSC from Delhi School of Economics and undergraduate degree in economics from Addis Ababa University.

  • Alfredo Valladão

    Professor, Sciences Po Paris & Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center
    Alfredo Valladão is Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) of Sciences Po Paris. Alongside this position, he is the President of the Advisory Board of the EU-Brazil Association in Brussels, the Director of the Latin America Research Chair at CESEM-HEM, in Morocco, a Member of the Board of Trustees of UNITAR, and a columnist for Radio France International (RFI). He previously held a position as Director of the Mercosur Chair of Sciences Po (1999-2010), and he is the former Coordinator of the Working Group on EU-Mercosur Negotiations and of the International Conference of Forte Copacabana on European-South American Defense and Security Dialogue. Professor Valladão has published extensively on geopolitics, global economics, regional integration and trade negotiations, Brazil and Latin America. He holds a PhD in Political Sciences from Sciences Po Paris.