Renewable Energy in Developing CountriesSome think that the majority of zero-carbon energy generators are being built in European countries such as Switzerland or Norway. But that is quite a stretch from reality. In 2018, the majority of the world’s new renewable energy capacities were built in developing countries. While wealthier developed countries added only 63 gigawatts of zero-carbon of energy, during the same time period developing nations added 114. Despite encountering numerous sizable challenges, developing countries are now leading the way in terms of the world’s clean energy transformation.

Renewable Energy in Developing Countries: Current Undertakings

  • Costa Rica: The most impressive energy transition has likely been experienced by Costa Rica. In May 2019, the small country was able to hit a huge milestone of generating 99.99 percent of its energy from renewable sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. Throughout the past decade, the country has seen a constant rising slope in its alternative energy generation despite adverse conditions caused by changing weather conditions and the El Niño phenomenon. The nation aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2021.
  • China: For the most part, the most popular sector of renewable energy in developing countries has come from the sun. With the cost of solar power decreasing by roughly 80 percent over the past decade, many developing countries are building both centralized and decentralized solar power systems. Some of the most ambitious renewable energy projects in developing countries are currently occurring in China, which ranks first globally for renewable energy having produced 1.4 GWh of electricity in 2019 from alternative sources. The country also owns about a third of the total renewable energy patents worldwide and is currently spending three times the amount the U.S. is in renewable energy investment, setting it up to become even more of a green superpower in the future. A combination of these factors has led to solar power becoming cheaper than grid electricity in China, which has further driven the demand and investment levels in it.
  • Kenya and the Ivory Coast: Most decentralized renewable energy projects in developing countries are currently being built with DIY kits which can easily be purchased from the internet. For instance, Lumos, a Dutch solar company, began selling solar kits in the Ivory Coast in 2017. Within a year, more than  73,000 units have been installed — consisting of a solar panel, power sockets, battery, mobile phone adapter and LED lightbulbs. Metered pay-as-you-use solar devices and generators have also become quite popular with M-KOPA, a start-up launched in 2012 in Kenya, leading the pack. For as little as a dollar per month, families can access solar energy. The company now has more than 600,000 customers across three countries and estimates on its website that it is bringing solar power to 500 new households per day.


The effects of developing countries transitioning and installing renewable energy have been overwhelmingly positive especially for remote communities. Currently, an estimated 1.3 billion people do not have access to grid electricity, forcing them to pay absurd amounts of money for unclean lighting and heat such as kerosene oil and coal stoves. However, micro-hydro systems and solar panels have been able to combat this by being self-sufficient energy off-grid sources. For example, in Kenya, the global leader in solar panels per capita, more and more citizens are choosing to install private solar systems rather than connecting to the country’s highly unreliable electric grid.

Additionally, jobs are often created in lieu of the initiation of zero-carbon energy producers. As an illustration, when Delhi, India built a new waste-to-energy plant in 2017 that burned garbage as fuel, it immediately hired seven waste-pickers and provided job training and employment to roughly 200 women.


Currently, the greatest challenge facing the implementation of renewable energy in developing countries is reliable energy storage. Without good energy storage, communities become dependent on the natural conditions for their electricity and are subject to frequent blackouts.

Another anticipated challenge is meeting the demand of critical metals and minerals, such as nickel, lithium and manganese, to these batteries in a sustainable and ethical manner. As the demand for these materials is expected to grow tenfold by 2050 and large deposits of them are found on African soil, the extracting industry must be regulated in a way so that the economic benefits are enjoyed by the entire locality, and that labor conditions within the supply chains are correctly regulated and addressed.

Future Directions

To combat the lack of reliable energy storage in third world countries, in 2018 the World Bank committed $1 billion to help accelerate investment in both the development and implementation of battery storage. Individual countries have also pledged varying amounts towards the development of alternative energy with China leading the way with an ambitious pledge to spend at least $360 billion on renewables by 2020.

The share of renewable energies in the global energy market is expected to grow up to 20 percent by 2023, and developing countries are expected to play a large role in this growth. The usage of bioenergy, energy generated from biomass fuels, is also expected to decrease as solar and hydropower become more efficient.

Conclusively, the future of renewable energy in developing countries appears quite promising. Although it would be too optimistic to not acknowledge developmental challenges such as efficient energy storage, through ingenious thinking and adventitious ideas, developing countries are likely to continue to be on the forefront of achieving the goal of carbon-neutral global energy consumption.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

female entrepreneursIn countries like the United States, female entrepreneurs account for 46.8 percent of the total businesses. The majority of these businesses are classified as small businesses, having fewer than 500 employees, but they generate almost $500 billion in payroll annually. This situation is worse in developing countries since women’s rights are not fully achieved and the opportunities for women to develop their own businesses are much more difficult to come by.

The reasons for Fewer Female Entrepreneurs

Why are there still fewer amounts of businesswomen than men not just in developing but in developed countries as well? Although developing countries may advocate more for women’s economic development, little is actually being done to provide more opportunities to change it. Since women’s failure rates are not that significantly different from those of men, researchers believe that gender bias is at fault and, thus, inhibiting the growth of women in the economy.

There is evidence that suggests that there are many reasons for the differences in the attitude about gender in business. One reason is that women and men often have different socioeconomic characteristics. If economists were to reform education, wealth, family and work status, those differences would disappear.

The Obstacles for Female Entrepreneurs

Africa remains one of the most successful leaders for efforts regarding female entrepreneurs. But, even the most successful countries still lack leadership, capital and professionalism, not to mention the inability to find affordable solutions in regard to childcare.

Countries like Japan have taken these shortcomings and transformed them into positive aspects of the economy. Womenomics is the idea that the advancement of women and economic development are necessarily linked. This philosophy is becoming widespread among developing nations. In Japan, these sorts of reformations can be credited to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since taking office, Abe has generated a larger female labor force rate than that of the United States.

Some other countries have also made several reformations propelling womenomics. Jordan has increased women’s enrollment in schools by 37 percent. Turning these rates into economic success, however, still remains a challenge. Many studies suggest that economic growth for women needs to be viewed as desirable and attainable for the majority of society.

Female entrepreneurs also struggle with the duality of a society that places more value on a familial lifestyle. For example, a woman may own a business, but her time at work is often limited by her duties at home. Data in developing countries assert that many women leave the business lifestyle to return to familial duties.

A study regarding the results of holding executive positions for women in Norway revealed that the majority of people believe there should be established quotas to include women in management in companies. The results of the pole were 74 percent in favor of those quotas. Later studies showed that as women in the workplace reach a certain age, the stigma associated with their work duties do too.

Curbing the Stigma

Shifting the thought process among thousands of different demographic structures isn’t easy, but it is clear that the majority of the world needs higher female entrepreneurial participation rates. Reforming education, wealth, family and work status are not projects that take only months to complete, rather they need a comprehensive and flexible government that is willing to take on the challenge for years to come.

There are several ways to start thinking about reforming the factors for female entrepreneurs. Creating workshops to propel female economic empowerment is a start. The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is doing just that. They are working to find projects for investment as well as provide training to work under the Women’s Economic Empowerment Index (WEEI).

By ending the stigma associated duties deemed appropriate for females, both developing and thriving countries can further increase the chances of positive economic outcomes. Education and awareness programs are important components to overcoming these gender-related stigmas.

Financial Inclusion

Governmental structure and large economic aid can advance female economic empowerment too. We’ve known for a long time that access to financial services can be a powerful driver to help people lift themselves out of poverty. With a concerted push from governments, the private sector, and multilateral institutions including the World Bank Group, we believe we can close this gap,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a meeting attempting to accelerate the growth of women’s empowerment.

The World Bank also states that simple financial education can greatly increase the chances of creating female entrepreneurs. There are so many aspects that can improve. For example, according to the World Bank, fewer than 10 percent of women in developing countries own a bank account. Access to financial institutions is an essential part of a successful business, which is why the organization started the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. This initiative will provide financing opportunities for women who own businesses in developing countries.

Donations from the World Bank Group, education and female empowerment workshops to end stigmas are some of the best ways in which the women can become involved and empowered in the workforce. It won’t happen quickly, but when it does, the economic benefits will surpass previous stigmas surrounding women in business.

– Logan Moore

Photo: Flickr

Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank's Goal to End Poverty
Since 2012 (and now in his second term), physician and anthropologist Jim Yong Kim has served as the president of the World Bank Group. After assuming leadership of the World Bank, he took up two goals: “to end extreme poverty by 2030; and to boost shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries.” 
His career has revolved around health, education and improving the lives of the poor.

Milken Institute and Global Poverty

On May 19, Jim Yong Kim spoke at the Milken Institute Global Conference which focuses on “advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health.” 

The Milken Institute hosts its Global Conference from April 29 to May 2 in Los Angeles, California, and possesses various centers focused on topics such as the Center for Financial Markets, Center for the Future of Aging, and Center for Jobs and Human Capital. One of the organization’s foci is children — 150 million children around the world are affected by poor nutrition, undersized growth, and cognitive impairment, and live primarily in South Asia and African countries.

According to VOA, if leaders don’t focus on investing in their people, then “many, many, many people will find themselves undereducated and without the skills to be able to compete in the economy of the future and so many countries are going to go down the path of fragility, conflict, violence, and then of course, extremism and migration.”

Business, Health and Development

In the talk, Jim Yong Kim stated there should be a business-like mindset when talking about health and development of individual; in fact, Kim has made it his mission to make this world a better place by working towards a common goal of reducing poverty.

According to Forbes, Kim wants to “reduce extreme poverty levels to below 3 percent of global people, and grow the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of each country.” His organization also lends out cash — almost $59 billion a year.

Before Kim assumed his position as president of the World Bank, he was president at Dartmouth College and “from 2003 to 2005, as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, he led the “3 by 5” initiative, the first-ever global goal for AIDS treatment, which greatly to expand access to antiretroviral medication in developing countries.” 

From A Ted Talk to Today

In a Ted Talk in April of 2017, Kim spoke about going to Haiti when everyone told him that the best thing to do was to focus on vaccination and possibly a feeding program. Since Kim’s parents had emigrated from Korea to flee the Korean war, though, Kim had a different perspective — what he saw in Haiti was what he saw in parents: to give their children the opportunity that they didn’t have.

In the Ted Talk, he goes on to say, “the Haitians wanted a hospital. They wanted schools. They wanted to provide their children with the opportunities that they’d been hearing about from others, relatives, for example, who had gone to the United States. They wanted the same kinds of opportunities as my parents did.”

In conclusion, Jim Yong Kim is a accredited president of the World Bank Group, and a charitable person who traveled to Haiti to help build hospitals and schools, and give children increased opportunities. All in all, if more people follow Kim’s example, the world will be a stronger and more sustainable place. 

– Valeria Flores
Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Cabo VerdeWhen analyzing progress created from global trade, employment opportunities and local equality, the world witnesses how to help people in Cabo Verde.

Tourism and Trade
With only 10 percent of land in Cabo Verde suitable for agriculture, it is essential for Cabo Verdeans to get support from outside sources. Thus, the fight to help people in Cabo Verde relies heavily on foreign support, trade and tourism.

As of May 2017, the Cabo Verde government has made efforts to create a trade, business and transport hub. Without witnessing the benefits that tourism created, the effort to increase trade would not exist. The poverty rate dropped from 37 percent in 2003 to 27 percent in 2008, largely because of Cabo Verde’s tourism sector.

To support Cabo Verde in its rise above poverty, the World Bank Group (WBG) committed funds for analytical work that enables accountable and strategic goals for reducing poverty. These activities would provide Cabo Verdeans with easier access to food and help ensure economic growth through trade and tourism.

The increase in tourism and trade helps develop more jobs for the locals. With low agricultural opportunities, Cabo Verdeans struggle to find employment: however, trade brings in consumer goods, allowing Cabo Verdeans to seek employment.

The new Cabo Verde government leaders, put in place after the 2016 election, are addressing the country’s macroeconomic challenges, with hopes of securing 45,000 jobs by 2021. To do so, the government teamed up with the United Nations and agreed to sign an annual work plan, aiming to reduce poverty and promote the new democratic government in Cabo Verde.

Reducing poverty and addressing how to help people in Cabo Verde means providing all Cabo Verdean adults the chance to be employed. Simply creating more job opportunities is not enough if the female population is not permitted to support their families and their country’s economy.

In 2015, Cabo Verde joined Step It Up for Gender Equality, meant to empower women and fight gender-based violence. The Government of Cabo Verde fights to implement the Gender-Based Violence Law and to provide women with equal roles within the country.

Cabo Verdeans have seen improvements in regards to female health because there was a decrease in the maternal mortality rate from 0.036 percent in 2006 to 0.026 percent in 2011. Hopefully with the new outlook on gender equality, those numbers will drop even further.

Cabo Verdeans are benefiting gradually from the World Bank Group granting Cabo Verde $78 million in 2017, the aid of the United Nation’s work plan and from the empowerment gained from Step It Up for Gender Equality. The progress in global trade, employment opportunities, and gender equality all contribute to the efforts of helping people in Cabo Verde alleviate poverty.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Mali
As growth programs in Africa transition from aid to investment, the quality of life for its inhabitants improves. The effects of poverty vary from place to place. For example, let’s examine the causes of poverty in Mali.

The World Bank Group (WBG) strives to promote risk management in its development policy operations and its understanding of the adverse factors that could affect its operations in Africa. As a result, its strategies could help alleviate some of the causes of poverty in Mali.

The WBG uses Standardized Operations Risk-Rating Tools to evaluate the success of its Country Partnership Framework. These tools are significant in the coordination and execution of development programs. They set the tone for what is achievable in the WBG’s operations. As a technique for risk management, the WBG employs different factors to determine the key impediments to development plans and the success of poverty reduction programs in Africa. Consequently, in the WBG’s assessment of its multilateral investment framework in 2016, the bank outlines certain risk factors that impede growth and are the causes of poverty in Mali.

The process for improvements in Africa must consider political stability as a condition for allowing investment plans to flourish. For the development intentions such as providing education, electricity, infrastructure, food security and regional integration in Africa, there must be peace and an environment where violence does not frighten investors. In Mali, high poverty in densely populated areas, increasing youth unemployment, unfavorable climate and environmental disasters worsen living conditions. More causes include:

  1. Conflict Risk: Conflicts in the west of Mali have had a ripple effect on other parts of the country. For example, there has been an increase in violence in the country’s southern region. The longer the instability in the north persists, the longer impact it will have on stability in the rest of the country.
  2. Lack of Progress on Key Governance Reforms: The Systemic Country Diagnostic for Mali indicates that poor infrastructure has worsened the government’s ability to tackle physical security issues and create an environment for economic growth.
  3. Economic risks: As increased violence raises concern for foreign investments, development partners are expected to reevaluate supporting development plans.
  4. Lack of Key Sector Reforms: As reforms in key sectors such as agriculture and energy should contribute to the reduction of poverty, these growths are unlikely if the terms of peace agreements are not met.
  5. Security Challenges for WBG-Funded Activities: A solution is to simplify the implementation arrangements and close cooperation with partners on the ground, as there is a low institutional capacity to implement these programs.

As an important contributor to development in Africa, the World Bank Group is committed to programs that have the potential of achieving the poverty reduction goals for 2030. These causes of poverty in Mali are similar to the causes of poverty in other parts of the globe. Thus, success and peace are mutually inclusive as they are significant factors for growth in Mali and other parts of Africa. As a result, stability in Mali is necessary for growth to continue.

Ebuka Okoye

Photo: Flickr

Supporting the education of women and girls around the globe is often a key component in efforts to end extreme global poverty. Statistics show that educated women marry later. This results in fewer child marriages and reduces fertility and infant mortality rates. Educated women are also more likely to go to work. When a woman receives regular pay, she can give back to her community, and when the working population in a community doubles due to female education, the cycle of poverty ends. This is why the World Bank Group (WBG) is focusing on ending the gender disparity in education in Uruguay.

Educating girls and women is WBG’s main goal in their fight to eradicate poverty. In Uruguay, women and girls face gender-based violence that discourages them from attending school. Gender bias and stereotyping is a long-standing issue in Uruguay that extends beyond the classroom. Recently the government in Uruguay has prioritized addressing the gender bias. They teamed up with WBG to implement the Improving the Quality of Initial and Primary Education in Uruguay Project to end gender-based violence and discrimination in schools.

The project is a part of the $2.5 billion investment in global education that WBG President Jim Yong Kim announced at the Let Girls Learn event in April 2016. Improve the Quality of Initial and Primary Education in Uruguay is a $40 million project that will implement teacher training to make educators aware of the gender disparity and equip them with the knowledge and tools to address it. The training will focus on social norms regarding masculinity versus femininity. In the process, WBG will direct a study of gender equality that will inform the Gender Equality Action Plan from 2017-2020.

In addition to addressing gender inequality, the project will also improve access to quality early childhood education. WBG plans to utilize the teacher training component of the project to focus on emotional and social development in primary schools. Their hope is to create a sustainable, gender-equal education system by implementing these practices from the beginning of a child’s schooling.

In April 2016, WBG President Jim Yong Kim said, “empowering and educating adolescent girls is one of the best ways to stop poverty from being passed from generation to generation and can be transformational for entire societies.” The Improve the Quality of Initial and Primary Education in Uruguay plans to do just that.

Rachel Cooper

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon hosts an ever-increasing refugee population, largely the result of an ongoing five-year civil war in Syria. Though Syrians comprise the majority of the approximately 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, Palestinians and a small number of Iraqis have also sought refuge in the country.

Here are 10 important facts about refugees in Lebanon:

  1. There are over 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, principally from Syria, Palestine and Iraq. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), reports that there are currently over 1.1 million Syrian refugees seeking protection in the host country.
  2. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1.02 million Syrian refugees as of Sept. 30 are officially registered with the Lebanese government.
  3. Lebanon, according to the CIA World Factbook July 2015, estimates the population of Lebanon to be 6.1 million. Consequently, they host the largest refugee population per capita in the world, with close to 25 percent of the population having sought refuge in the country.
  4. Lebanon is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol, which elucidates the international community’s responsibility to protect refugees. In addition, there is no national legislation regarding refugees, but in 2003 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) was signed between the UNHCR and the Lebanese government. The MOA gives those in need of asylum a temporary residence permit as their refugee status is decided and a permanent solution is obtained. Since there are no official refugee camps, Syrian refugees are in some of the neediest and most at-risk neighborhoods in the country.
  5. In 2016, the European Commission has promised a total of 87 million euros to Lebanon in humanitarian assistance for refugees. Fifteen million euros specifically for Palestinian refugees from Syria were allocated by the European Commission to assist the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in their effort to supply much-needed cash assistance and educational services.
  6. The UNCHR is doing an extensive amount of work with the help of partners to develop educational prospects for thousands of young Syrian refugees. The UNCHR recently reported that in Lebanon almost 158,000 children, up from 62,664 a year earlier, were enrolled in school.
  7. According to the EU, its humanitarian response to Syrian refugees in Lebanon has for the most part been in cash assistance to help people with basic necessities; and providing health care, shelter, water and sanitation support.
  8. The UNHCR has had much success with the launch of a Facebook group in 2014. The “I am Syrian in Lebanon” group has 30,000 members and it assists people on many things including school enrollment and reporting abuse.
  9. The World Bank Group (WBG) has, with the help of partners, introduced several projects to assist Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees. The Municipal Services Emergency Project assists local governments to address crisis issues more in terms of development rather than strictly humanitarian focused.
  10. The WBG project is assisting in the delivery of supplies, such as garbage compactors, service vehicles, water filters, water supply systems, sewage systems and the revitalization of public infrastructure.

The results of WBG projects have had an immensely positive impact on the Lebanese communities where its efforts have been directed.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Investing in Early Childhood
At the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings, nine countries committed to investing in early childhood needs and reduce malnutrition in developing countries.

All the countries in question are dedicated to funneling new resources into the early years of children. The hope is that by doing so, they will live longer, healthier lives and learn important tools and skills that will help them grow into well-adjusted, productive adults.

“Poor nutrition, few opportunities for early learning and stimulation, and toxic environments literally hardwire young children to miss out on opportunities to learn and later to earn good wages,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

According to UNICEF, children in poor environments are far more likely to experience stunted growth when compared to their richer counterparts. This is in part due to lack of access to proper nutrition, which can have negative effects on growth and development.

For instance, a recent study by The Lancet has noted that 66 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from poverty and stunting. In South Asia, 65 percent of children are at risk of stunting which is an irreversible condition that hampers the physical and cognitive growth of children.

Organizations such as Save the Children have been working diligently to combat the issue. They have implemented School Health and Nutrition programs, which increase access to health and nutrition services in schools, such as micronutrient supplementation and vision and hearing screening.

Improving nutrition in developing countries is also one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Both programs recognize the importance of improving nutrition in developing countries to better foster appropriate physical and cognitive development in children.

By promoting healthy life behaviors, increasing access to sustainable agriculture and improving skills-based education, these institutions hope to make stunting due to child malnutrition a thing of the past.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Many say that the next major war will not be for territory but for water. The precious liquid is needed for humankind’s very existence, yet it is becoming scarcer and scarcer as the world’s population continues to grow.

A tiny, arid country surrounded by deserts has been fighting, literally at times, for water since its inception in 1948. Israel is one of the world’s leaders in water conservation technology, simply because it has to be in order to survive. It has only gotten harder recently, with prolonged droughts and increasing population adding to the problem.

As a result of the Israel‘s harsh climate, it has developed world-class water technology, and this fact has now been recognized by the World Bank. Because of Israel’s advanced knowledge of water technology, they are in a position to help other countries with their own water problems.

Israel’s Ministry of Economy has given $500,000 to the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice. The money will be used to increase and enhance water knowledge in developing countries. The agreement also includes sharing ideas, best practices and water industry expertise with developing countries.

Also included in the agreement are study tours, that are “expected to be held in Israel in the next two years and will include officials from developing countries, as well as World Bank Group staff. In addition, the agreement will include an analytical profile study of Israel’s experience in managing water and transferring of global expertise on water security.”

So what exactly does Israel bring to the table when it comes to water technology, and how can it help the developing world? Their advanced drip irrigation systems, for one. The Israeli inventor Rafi Mehudar has been developing drip irrigation systems for 40 years. Netafim is the company he has been working with, and both are now big players in the water tech industry – their drips reduce water usage by 90%, raise crop productivity and are being used in India, Brazil, China and Africa.

The one issue that comes with a large corporation making technology like this is that Netafim cannot sell to a family or single farmer – it is just not feasible, with a drip irrigation system costing $500. This is almost half of the average income an Indian made in 2014 of $1,140. This is where NGOs as well as governments come into the picture. The government in India is paying for half of every drip irrigation system bought from either Netafim or one of the company’s competitors.

Netafim relies on NGOs to organize farmers in Africa into groups to help with the costs. Often single farmers only have plots large enough to feed their family, so selling to a single farmer will not work.

Because of this, Israel sits on a fence edge when it comes to helping the global poor. While they have made the contribution to the World Bank Group, their immensely useful water technology is still only a business, and they rely on others to make it affordable for the developing world. Time will tell whether their technology is a sustainable help for countries with water issues of their own.

– Greg Baker

Sources: The Atlantic, World Bank Washington Post, Times of Israel
Photo: greenprophet

Ghana is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that has met the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty in half by 2015, and it is also among the most developed countries in the region.

According to the World Bank Group, 24.3 percent of Ghana’s population is living below the poverty line, down from 31.9 percent in 2005. Even with substantial developments, there still remain certain challenges that hinder progress in Ghana. Similar to many nations in the developing world, poverty in Ghana is largely due to social and economic inequalities among its citizens. Ghana’s economic growth has also slowed down significantly over the past few years, affecting many cities across the region including the capital of Accra. According to the World Bank Group, the gross domestic product (GDP) declined from 7.3 percent in 2013 to an estimated 4.2 percent in 2014. The slowed growth was a result of inflation and a fall in currency, which has also impacted many areas in the region such as Accra.

Accra, the capital of Ghana, is considered one of the largest cities in the country. The country has an estimated population of more than 2 million people and holds approximately 10 percent of Ghana’s entire population. Although Ghana’s economic progress has slowed down, its capital is still a leading force in the nation. For example, Accra has among the lowest poverty rates in the country when compared to other cities in the region.

The city serves as the focal point for the region’s economic development, with the service industry employing over 530,000 people. However, the city also has a high unemployment rate with approximately 12.2 percent of the population, amounting to 114,198 people, reportedly unemployed. This is a contributing factor to Ghana’s urban poverty. The population dwelling within the city relies heavily on employment and income, both of which are critical sources for sufficient livelihoods. In turn, high food prices and income inequalities further impact urban poverty in Accra.

Apart from city dwellers, poverty permeates a significant amount of rural areas in Accra. There are 79 communities within Accra including Ga Mashie, James Town, Chorkor and Nima, identified as three of the most high poverty communities in the region. The indigenous populations found throughout Accra are some of the most vulnerable. For example, communities in areas like Ga, which had initially derived its livelihood from farming and fishing, are now considered to be among the poorest in the region. Additionally, households headed by women within these communities experience significantly higher poverty rates.

The reason why Accra still has a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line is partly due to the lack of information provided about these communities. It is difficult to focus on an area with need when not enough information or knowledge is being conveyed; as a result, progress in the area has been hindered.

Even with all the challenges Ghana has been facing, it is still one of the most developed countries in the region. Urban and rural poverty resulting from social and political inequalities are reason enough for concern, even as Accra remains one of the more stable and developed cities in the region. With a more focused post-2015 development framework that addresses the social and economic inequalities in Ghana, the region can continue progressing.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Bank, IPA, UNICEF, Action 2015
Photo: Two Years in Ghana