Notwithstanding its challenges, Ghana remains one of the leading African countries that have achieved marked improvement in various sectors of their economies, especially on human development indicators.
The country is among several African countries that have made progress in reducing extreme poverty, having reduced poverty to 25.2 per cent as of 2005/2006 from 47.3 per cent in 1991/92.
As of 2012, the number of poor people had further reduced to 21.1 per cent, according to the sixth Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) conducted in 2012.
Those living in extreme poverty, whom the World Bank defines as people who live on less than $1.90 a day, also reduced from 37.6 per cent in 1991 to 27.1 per cent in 1992 then to 18.1 per cent in 2005 and to 9.6 per cent in the latest survey in 2012.
This has been made possible indeed due to the unprecedented cumulative performance of the local economy in the past two decades.
“After more than a decade of stable annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) at between four and five per cent, growth began to pick up in the early 2000s and reached a steady rate of nearly eight per cent after 2006. Over the past 20 years, the Ghanaian economy has almost always grown more quickly than the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries and at rates similar to those of lower middle-income countries,” the World Bank said in its briefs on Ghana.
The new Country Partnership Agreement with Ghana is aimed, among other things, at consolidating the middle-income status of the country, protecting the economy from volatile global commodity prices and improving value for money of public investments through the use of instruments such as public/private partnerships.
Govt’s medium-term plan
With 51 per cent of Ghanaians already living in urban areas, the government’s medium-term programme is aimed at increasing per capita GDP to $2,300 by 2017 and $3,000 by 2020.
It is within the context of such profound progress that the President of the World Bank Group, Dr Jim Yong Kim, has chosen to visit Ghana today to launch a report on poverty in Africa, highlight Ghana’s progress towards ending extreme poverty and, above all, commemorate ‘End Poverty Day’.
Dr Yong Kim’s visit will be part of many activities this week that focus on ending extreme poverty by 2030.
According to the World Bank — which has set goals for ending extreme poverty by 2030 — the ‘End Poverty Day’ efforts would be global and the Group President would use the October 16 visit to meet with development partners, innovators, students and civil society leaders to reflect on the common measures taken by Ghana and other countries to reduce poverty and highlight what was needed for further progress.
His visit comes at a time when the world has set an ambitious target of ending all forms of poverty everywhere under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, is being observed for the first time since the world endorsed the SDGs about a month ago.
“With the world now signed onto the ambitious SDGs, countries are beginning to draw up national plans to achieve the new goals and targets, so now is an opportune time for advocacy and action.
“The World Bank Group will continue to offer governments support for their anti-poverty work in the form of shared knowledge, innovative financing and statistical capacity building, since tracking our goals is essential if we are to accurately measure the world’s progress,” the World Bank said.
Level of world poverty
Dr Kim’s visit also comes shortly after the release of a World Bank report earlier this month that projects, for the first time, that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty around the world would have fallen below 10 per cent in 2015 to 9.6 per cent.
The bank estimates that 702 million people still live in extreme poverty around the world today.
Many African countries have seen significant successes in reducing extreme poverty, but the region as a whole lags behind the rest of the world in progressing towards the goal.
Sub-Saharan African poverty fell from an estimated 56 per cent in 1990 to a projected 35 per cent in 2015, according to the latest World Bank estimates which are based on an extreme poverty line of $1.90 a day.
Rapid population growth remains a key factor blunting progress in many countries.
During the first part of his visit, Dr Kim will be joined by President John Dramani Mahama, the development partners, as well as civil society leaders, private sector representatives and student leaders, to observe ‘End Poverty Day’ at Jamestown, Accra, where they will together launch a regional flagship report, ‘Poverty in a Rising Africa’.
The report explores whether enough of the continent’s citizens are sharing in Africa’s rise, analyse challenges related to poverty data and provide an update on poverty and other trends related to human well-being.
Dr Kim will also participate in a “Shared Prosperity Forum” at the University of Ghana, Legon, in the afternoon, along with government ministers from Africa, civil society and private sector leaders, to share thoughts on what it will take to end extreme poverty in Africa and the rest of the world by 2030.
Ghana’s path towards prosperity
Ghana’s own path towards prosperity will be among the topics explored during an event which will have Dr Kim, the Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, and Mr Tony Elumelu, the international businessman, entrepreneur and Board Chairman of UBA Bank as speakers.
The World Bank’s current portfolio for sub-Saharan Africa consists of $11.6 billion for 103 projects. This includes $1.2 billion in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loans and $10.4 billion in International Development Assistance (IDA) commitments, basically made up of concessionary loans and grants.
The leading sectors are public administration, law and justice, health and other social services and transportation.
The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group focused on the private sector, has a total committed investment portfolio of $10.3 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, including $8.7 billion for its own account and $1.7 billion mobilised on behalf of other investors.
The IFC also provides wide-ranging advice for governments and businesses to help the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
For instance, it is the transaction advisor in the search for a concessionaire to manage the Electricity Company of Ghana as a precondition for accessing grants under Ghana’s second compact with the Millennium Challenge Account of the United States of America.
Ghana Partnership Strategy
The World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy with Ghana was approved in early 2014 and allows the multilateral lender to commit about $1.2 billion in three years to support three strategic thematic areas of the economy — governance and public sector capacity, competitiveness and employment and vulnerability and resilience — to consolidate gains.
The sectors of focus include poverty and social protection, with emphasis on closing inequalities and improving maternal and infant health.
The World Bank is also working with Ghana to improve infrastructure, such as increasing power generation to 5,000 MW by 2016 and helping the development and utilisation of oil and gas, with linkages to electricity generation, as well as water and sanitation improvement.
Transport, human development (including education and social protection) and public sector reforms are high on the objectives under the Ghana Country Partnership.