Ghana says poverty cut by half since 1992

AFP
The International Monetary Fund said it was holding talks with government officials in Ghana, who formally requested IMF assistance on August 8
The International Monetary Fund said it was holding talks with government officials in Ghana, who formally requested IMF assistance on August 8 (AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)

Accra (AFP) - The number of people living in poverty in Ghana halved between 1992 and 2013, the government said Friday, with the country meeting a key developmental benchmark even as its economy struggles.

Just under a quarter, or 24.2 percent, of Ghanaians were living in poverty in 2013 compared to 51.7 percent in 1992, new data from the national statistics body showed.

The figures were based on Ghana's own measure of poverty which for 2013 counted individuals living on less than 3.60 cedis -- equivalent last year to an average of $2.34 or 2.21 euros -- a day.

The UN measure for poverty counts those living on an even smaller amount, of less than $1.25 per day.

By halving the poverty rate, Ghana becomes one of the few African countries to achieve the first of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a set of benchmarks that developing countries are aiming to meet by next year.

Sarah Hague, the head of social policy for the UN children's fund UNICEF in Ghana, said South Africa has also met the target but that much of the rest of the continent is under-performing.

"Africa as a whole is far off track," she said, adding that poverty across the continent had only dropped to 48 percent in 2010 from 56 percent in 1990.

Anthony Amuzu, from the Ghana Statistical Service, said anti-poverty initiatives such as cash transfers and school feeding programmes were behind Ghana's success.

In the wider economy, however, Ghana -- which has a population of 25 million -- has faced a series of economic challenges lately, with the currency losing nearly 37 per cent of its value since the start of the year.

The government has said it will approach the International Monetary Fund for help in stabilising the cedi and closing a budget deficit that stands at 10.1 per cent of GDP.