Which African country enjoys the highest standard of living?

I was wondering which African country had the highest standard of living and how that lifestyle compares to that of the U.S.

The country with the highest per capita income in Africa is Seychelles. It is also the top African country in the Human Development Index, 47th out of 177 world wide.

Well I really had mainland African countries, sorry for being vague. And I don’t really want to include Egypt though I’m not sure where they would rank.

Here is the CIA World Factbook comparison of GDP (purchasing power parity).
South Africa is 24; Egypt is 34; Algeria is 39.

Thw World Bank has tables (.pdf) on Sub-Sahara Africa and on Middle East and North Africa (along with the rest of the world) that compares multiple factors and provides definitions and caveats on the Index page.

Parts of South Africa are considered to be “first-world” in terms of resources, healthcare etc. while other parts of it are very “third-world”, but that would have to be my guess.

Around here South Africa is considered practically Paris. You can shop at the Gap, eat McDonalds, live in suburbs with lawns, etc. Kenya is considered a close second.

With modern urban luxeries come modern urban problems. Urban poverty is different than rural poverty. And a country with wide income gaps between the rich and poor is very different than a country with a general low level of income. So it’s tough to make comparision.

If I was going to be and live in Africa, where would I want to live? I hear Nairobi is very liveable. If I were going to be the average African and live in Africa where would I live? I havn’t seen enough to really know, but life here in Cameroon doesn’t seem so bad on average. Certainly better than life in a South Africa urban slum.

The challenge with ranking & understanding living standards between countries is understanding income / wealth* distribution.

Just in the OP’s home state of Georgia alone you’ll find fat cats in multi-million dollar houses near Atlanta or the shore and you’ll also find 3rd-generation illiterate folks living in windowless shacks & growing most of their own food. So what is the actual “standard of living” in Georgia?

And if you simply take an average, it certainly doesn’t describe the reality of either end of the spectrum. Averages, or “per capita” figures, as cited by others above, provide a part of the picture, and become more valid as income disparity becomes small. In the classic socialist country (if such ever really existed) everybody was close to equal economically. In a place like that, per capita figures do a good job of describing “standard of living” for most people. Likewise 1950-60s America, at least for the ~70% that was then white & urban / suburban.

The US has hefty income / wealth disparities, and those are dwarfed by the income / wealth disparities in Africa. Rather than a bell-shaped curve with most people someplace in the middle (hence the term “middle class”) Africa has an exponentially decaying slope, where the vast majority are substantially penniless & a few people have all the income / wealth.

The country of South Africa has relatively more middle class than the rest of Africa, and if you are in that middle or above-middle class your life is not to different from middle-upper middle class America or Australia. But once you begin to look below the magic cut-off, there is an ever increasing number of ever more destitute folks.
My bottom line: Without looking at income or wealth distribution curves & comparing them to the same data for places you’re more familiar with, you’re likely not going to get an answer that really informs. But if you merely want to know which country you could live in most like you do now, I’d say SA would be all but identical to your current lifestyle.

[sub]*Footnote to quibblers (myself included): I understand that income & weatlh are two very different concepts. But at this level of simplification, you can use either term throughout my post & the point still stands.[/sub]

Fair point on income/asset distribution, to which I would add ‘quality of life’

  • a high standard of living is not so great if each night you lock yourself upstairs in a cage

Funny but I’ve noticed a lot more South African whites and capes in the UK, in the last few years.

I have not been to South Africa since 1999, and of course the situation there is somewhat in flux. But the “haves” there enjoyed a very nice lifestyle 8 years ago – certainly by comparison to Mozambique, where I lived at the time, and in many ways to Egypt, where I live now.

Setting the rest of the continent aside, in some ways (again, speaking only for the well-off) the quality of life in SA seemed superior to that of the US - for example, in terms of health care. My son was born in a South African hospital, and when I compare notes with friends who gave birth in the US it seems clear that the quality of care I received was far better: although it met first-world standards, it was MUCH cheaper, and unlike in the US where hospitals push you out the door as fast as they can, I was encouraged to stay for 3-4 days to recover from an easy birth with no complications. (It was paternalistic as all get-out though; it was pretty clear patients were not expected to question anything a doctor or nurse said or did.)

However, crime in SA seems to be so horrible that all other considerations fall by the wayside (my friend who lives there now has gotten broken into 3 times in 2 years, and just got mugged. Heck, NADINE GORDIMER was a crime victim not too long ago). Likewise, I believe statistics show that road travel is quite unsafe due to traffic accidents.

Sorry not to provide any cites about the crime/traffic fatalities, but if you want to check it out, you can in all likelihood confirm what I’m saying.

“Capes”? That better not mean what I think it means.

I think the plainly factual answer to the OP is undoubtedly South Africa - he said, typing on his PC over wireless internet, drinking his Gordons and tonic, getting ready to watch his Firefly DVDs (again) in the lounge of his Victorian semi that has never really been broken into (had a bike nicked from the driveway once). It’s also been at least 10 years since I’ve been mugged, FTR. Although, even sven, I was unaware that we had any Gap stores here. But my kid wears a BabyGap jacket when it rains, and my wife & I’ve been out of the country many times.

Hell, parts of the US are “third world”, if what I’ve heard about the rural South and some Indian reservations are true. the First/Third WWorld classification system’s past its useful life, IMO.

But yeah, we have million-dollar-a-house golf estates 10 mins drive from shantytowns with open sewers, here. We still have an average standard of living better than anywhere else in Africa. Even those shantytown dwellers are often getting a $150/month grant from the Gov. Plus a minimum amount of free electricity and water, if they’re hooked up. Our poor are not the Congolese or Somali poor.

Plus, when people tell you SA has the world’s highest murder rate, they overlook the fact that a lot of African countries just don’t have those stats or are excluded because they’re active warzones (so the killings don’t count as murder, I guess). I know which I’d prefer to live in.

Friends of mine lived in Botswana, and said the standard of living there was pretty high. The usual unequal distribution of wealth, but a significantly large black middle class, good healthcare, and good education. However, that was before AIDS ravaged the country, and I believe the situation may have changed.

bump to get some clarity on what FRDE means by “capes”

Cape coloureds, a combination of indigenous tribes such as the Griquas plus Malays, Indians and Europeans. A distinct group who are likely to fare about as well as Indians in Uganda should South Africa turn into a Mugabeland.

As it happens I feel quite a lot of sympathy for them, and regard them as deserving immigrants into our rather overpopulated island.

The ones I’ve met in and around my home town tend to be pretty smart

For those that don’t know:

The Griqua gave the Matabele (an offshoot of the Zulus) living hell when they went nuts and started marching South.

As an aside, a lass who self describes as Griqua married a guy I know and kicked him into a really good business (totally legit) which they sold out for many millions. She was a bit surprized that I knew anything about their history.

I suppose MrDibble, you are interested in my predictions for South Africa. From afar, and with the little that I glean - it is not looking good. I fear that I’ll be buying my wine from a different origin within about 5 years.

I thought so.

The rest of the culture lesson I really didn’t need, because I’m Coloured myself.

You clearly don’t know there’s no such thing as a “Cape coloured”. It’s an apartheid classification term, along with such useful classifications as “Other Coloured”. We’re just Coloured. And shortening it to just “capes” is really going to get my back up - might as well call us Hottentots, it’d be as polite. “Capes” is just an ethnic slur to me.

I really doubt your friend’s wife was really Griqua, BTW. More likely just a Coloured assuming the mantle of “legitimate” ethnicity for whatever reason. Real Griquas are thin on the ground, despite the numbers that Wikipedia article gives (2-5 million? Please! There aren’t even 5 million Coloureds total), and very much stuck in their own traditional lands.

Coloureds in South Africa are unlikely to go the way of Ugandan Indians. For one thing, there are millions of us (we’re the majority in the Western Cape Province, and 10% of the overall population), for another, Coloureds are quite entrenched in the ruling party political structure, from Finance Minister on down. It wouldn’t even surprise me to see a Coloured president in the next 20 years or so. Lastly, ethnic conflict here doesn’t just break down around simplistic racial lines, but also tribal.

May I suggest that the remainder of the discussion about “coloureds” (personally, I dislike any term for a person that requires division based upon the concept of “race” or skin color) be taken either to a different thread, or to an exchange of PM’s and/or e-mails? Let’s take the thread discussion back to the concept of the OP, please. :slight_smile:

I spent a lot of time replying to you.

It is not here.

Were I paranoid I would think that someone had jerked the chain on the thread

  • like what happened when I was talking about practical body disposal (Don’t ask)

If it is not the Hamster then PUT IT BACK [sub]please[/sub] It was not controversial - it was just describing the inevitable.

You don’t know what MrDibble and I were talking about.

That or the hamster got a hernia.

As it happens I cannot reproduce what I said earlier, due to Cab Sauv from locations close to SA.

A precis version is: no hard feelings, get out before the sh/t hits the fan

No offence - just practical advice in self preservation.

BLASTED HAMSTER - I spent a long time on that post

I actually thought about the predicament.

I hear the opposite, that the crime and corruption problem in Nairobi has a profoundly negative effect on the quality of life. I had a Kenyan coworker who used to tell me stuff that was just unbelievable – for example, that the newly buried needed to be covered by a concrete slab to stop the body from being dug up and stripped of its valuables. And worse, that you had to hire somebody to watch over the concrete slab while it was curing.

This is a case where on some indexes, Kenya might fare well compared to other African countries, but in terms of actual quality of life – and I consider freedom from crime to be an important quality-of-life issue – some other countries might come out well ahead. Your defense of Cameroon in another thread made a lot of sense to me in this regard.

May I suggest that you learn exactly what I and MrDibble were talking about.

He was offended because I talked of the Ghurkali (metaphoricaly)

Anyway, you have no idea what we were talking about, so would it not be wise to sit and listen with your eyes (hint next mega problem in Southern Africa)

If y’all don’t mind, I’d like to steer things back towards the OP a bit…

I have a friend who is a native of Guyana. He works here in the states as a computer programmer and sends part of his pay back home to his extended family. He says that for a couple hundred bucks a month, his parents, two brothers, their wives and kids live like royalty. That is to say, they enjoy a comfortable lifestyle relative to folks around them.

If I were so inclined to do the same thing in Africa, which countries would offer a similar situation? Which economic statistics would help me identify suitable destinations?

Also, are there any useful statistics that would speak to general safety? Some of the replies have mentioned problems with crime, and of course there are regions of Africa experiencing open warfare. Other than gathering anecdotes, are there data points to address this issue?