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Was Africa Rising? Narratives of Development Success and Failure among the Mozambican Middle Class

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2017


King's Authors


In the 2000s and 2010s a narrative of ‘Africa Rising’ was popularised by businesses, donors, media and political leaders. High economic growth rates, increased investment from the BRICS and the export of natural resources supported claims of development success. One group held up as beneficiaries were the emerging African middle class. Despite the optimism, poverty ratios remained stable and impoverishment was widespread. Change was occurring, but the gains were uneven. Mozambique had a liberalised economy and was at the forefront of numerous accounts of Africa’s rise in 2014. Perceptions of change among middle class Mozambicans working in small and medium enterprises in the hospitality, retail and construction sectors in Maputo were investigated. Economic growth enabled good performance for some businesses in the capital city, but there were challenges such as regulations that hampered enterprises, rising inequality and labour exploitation by foreign companies. There was frustration among the middle class with the state and business elites. Through a process of extraversion leaders in the ruling FRELIMO party worked as intermediaries between the global and national market and gained from uneven development. Mozambique served as an important example of how economic growth had limited developmental benefits for those in the middle.

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