The Upper West Region is the region with the highest level of inequality, the largest increase since the 1990s, Mr George Osei Bimpeh, Executive Director of SEND Ghana, a think tank organisation, has said.
He said despite the gains that Ghana had attained in reducing poverty over the past two decades, inequality had been on the rise since 1992.
He noted that in all the lowest level of inequality in the country was found in the Greater Accra Region (GAR).
Mr Osei-Bimpeh made these revelations in his presentation at a day’s forum on the topic “Reducing Inequality in Ghana: the Role of Stakeholders,” in Accra.
The forum, which was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in partnership with OXFAM-Ghana, brought together key stakeholders such as the media, civil society organisations, government representatives, the diplomatic corps and other stakeholders to deliberate on the worrying trend of inequality in Ghana despite the country’s gains at poverty reduction.
The forum formed part of MFWA’s activities under the Democratic Governance in West Africa (DEGOWA) programme with funding support from OXFAM-Ghana.
Mr Osei-Bimpeh said there were significant variations in incidence and depth of poverty among the districts, within and across regions; however, the same could not be said with respect to inequality.
He cited that the Wa West in the Upper West Region had the highest poverty incidence and depth; whereas the least incidence rate was recorded in La Dade Kotopon Municipal in the GAR.
On inequality in consumption growth, Mr Osei-Obimpeh said “taking consumption levels: the gap between the poorest 10 per cent and the richest 10 per cent had been on the rise since 2006”.
He said the wealthiest docile (quartiles) now consume 6.8 times than the poorest 10 per cent, up from 6.4 times in 2006.
He said the average consumption by the wealthiest (10 per cent) increased by 27 per cent: for the poorest it only increased by 19 per cent – thus growth for the richest group was over 1.4 times greater than for the poorest.
Mr Osei-Bimpeh said the shares of total national consumption vary substantially between rich and poor.
He said the wealthiest 10 per cent consume one-third of all national consumption, whereas the poorest 10 per cent consume just 1.72 per cent.
“This means that even if the Gini has not notably increased since 2006, other evidence suggests that inequality between the poorest and wealthiest has indeed increased,” he stated.
He noted that the poor’s growth rate had been lower overall than for wealthier groups who have benefitted more, which had added to the inequality gap.
He said recent increase in growth had driven impressive poverty reduction, but rising inequality had indeed reduced poverty reduction
“Since 2006 alone, the rise in inequality reduced poverty reduction by 1.1 percentage points, equivalent to maintaining around 289,822 people in poverty since 2006,” he said.
“Between 1992 and 2006…. reduced poverty reduction efforts by 2.5 percentage points, equivalent to 555,422 people. Approximately 850,000 kept in poverty due to inequality.”
He said poverty analysis been based on national and regional level indicators that were comparable over time; adding that the broad trends that were identified using aggregate information were useful for monitoring and evaluating the overall performance of poverty reduction programmes.
“However, information that can be extracted from aggregate indicators is not sufficient, since they do not reveal significant local variations in living conditions within the country.”
On causes of inequality, Mr Osei-Bimpeh said “the language (inequality) has been missed in the development agenda…..inequality is not necessarily poverty.”
He said there were no clear national strategies for addressing inequality in the country.
He also mentioned structural and systemic issues…..reliance on too much indirect taxes….consumption tax.
In order to address inequality in the country, Mr Osei-Bimpeh called for a comprehensive policy framework to navigate the complexities and challenges of inequality based on related pillars.
He also called for closing gaps in health, education and nutrition; and also addressing of social exclusion and discrimination.
He said SEND Ghana was not against wealth, but was for the just distribution of it.
Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director, MFWA, urged the media to step up their game in the fight against poverty and inequality in the country.
He said that the inequality gap, which continued to swell between urban and rural communities, socially and politically, threatens the Ghana’s socioeconomic gains attained over the past two decades.