Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ghana - bling versus blight

Ghana's Gini coefficient – a measure of income distribution in which zero indicates perfect equality and 1 corresponds with perfect inequality – is 0.41. Ghana is one of the world's most unequal countries and the inequality is worsening. Under Ghana's new status as a Middle Level Income Country is the fact that most of the benefits of the economic growth over the years have gone to a fairly small elites that live in places like East Legon and Airport Residential Area, with ritzy surroundings inside walled enclaves. It is easy to see the latest expensive cars roaming around and the floating of the famed African bling.

Inequality among Ghanaians is seen more at the country being at the 130th position of the 2010 UN Human Development Index ranked among 169 countries for their wellbeing. Though Ghana is at the medium human development, issues of life expectancy, literacy, education, child welfare, healthcare, energy, access to water, toilets/sanitation and general standards of living aren't equally distributed. The human wellbeing inadequacies do not affect the rich who can easily afford the basic necessities in life and can easily send members of their families abroad for better services. That makes Ghanaians unequal.

Polls from Gallop revealed that since 2008, 12.7 million Ghanaians, who represent 53 percent of the 24 million population, “cannot afford the cost of food …Those who admit to living comfortably have dropped from 20% in 2007 to 4% of the population in 2010. In 2007, 11 percent of Ghanaians said they were suffering under severe economic hardships.”

The Sub Metro Director of Okaikoi South, an Accra subburb, Nathaniel Adzotor, says “about one-third of residents in Accra live in slums and as a result do not enjoy adequate social services.”
Only 13 percent of Ghanaians have access to toilets. In Accra, the capital, 90 percent of its population have no access to toilets. As of 2009, life expectancy at birth is about 59 years for males and 60 years for females with infant mortality at 51 per 1000 live births. In a country of 24 million, there are only about 15 physicians and 93 nurses per 100,000 persons. Press reports say there are only four psychiatrists in a country of 24 million. In most rural areas, there are no medical doctors and medical facilities aren't there.

There are the new found oilfields, which may contain over 3 billion barrels of light oil. Hess Corp announced that it has hit oil and gas deposits off the coast of Ghana. Earlier, Texas-based Kosmos Energy had discovered more oil and gas at Cape Three Points. The expanding oil and gas finds are gradually positioning Ghana as major oil and gas producer. But how majority of Ghanaians will benefit from the oil and gas find depend on the degree of democratic growth.

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