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    Building a Middle

    Africa looks to increase its bourgeois factor

    The function of a city, it has been said, is to create a middle class. Cities in sub-Saharan Africa are trying to do just that, reports The Wall Street Journal on July 17, by using U.S. style mortgages in a process that would make Hernando de Soto proud. The mortgages will enable the middle class to do something they've rarely been able to before--build and own a home.

    In Lusaka, Zambia, for instance, a developer is building a 3,700-house community to test the market. Some investment groups are creating dedicated funds to solely invest in Africa, where it is believed there is pent-up demand by a hidden middle class.

    The WSJ articles cites World Bank estimates that the number of of middle class will rise from 12.8 million (in 2000) to 43 million (in 2030). Most will be in South Africa, but many will be in Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.

    Normal mortgage needs to be adjusted to the local environment. In Zambia, where AIDS has reduced average life span to 38, mortgages must be paid off before a person reaches 55. GEO


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