World Bank bemoans growing inequality in sub-Saharan Africa

A new research released by the World Bank at a forum called “End Poverty” has bemoaned the growing level of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the report, the inequality gap between the poor and the rich has widened due to excess focus on urban development to the neglect of agriculture.

Attributing the phenomenon to low investment in the agriculture sector, the report warned that overreliance on imported goods do not just  increase poverty but will also negatively affect the balance of trade in food staples in the region.

More alarming, it pointed out that the value of food import in sub Saharan Africa could reach 1 trillion dollars by 2030 if measures are not taken to invest in the agriculture sector.

Speaking at a video conference with some African countries to discuss the report, the Chief Policy Advisor at UNICEF, Sarah Hague stated that even though Ghana has done well in some aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, the inequality gap has widened.

“Despite some of the very impressive progress that we have made here in Ghana, we still have one in four people living in poverty. Inequality is at its highest level ever in the country, but we don’t talk about it,” she explained.

She however stated that poverty has been viewed by governments as a major challenge that affects majority of the population, particularly, rural farmers.

“The positive thing in Ghana is that poverty is not seen as just a financial thing , or  not just seen as social or marginal issue its been seen as a crucial issue that cuts across the whole of government but what we see in Ghana is that the discussion on poverty is low,” she stressed.

Calling for the need to make the discussion on poverty reduction a pivotal requirement, Madam Hague stated that a comprehensive discussion of the issue will empower Ghanaians to join in the fight against poverty.

“We don’t talk about poverty, we don’t talk about inequality. I don’t know whether its because these are old terms that we used to use[so] they don’t resonate with people anymore or because we feel like with dealt with the issue or we are so focused on whether we have power and all of these issues are not given priority in the dailies,” she lamented.

The Report

The report pointed out that extreme poverty is shrinking worldwide but it is still widespread in sub-Saharan African.

It illustrated that in 2013, comprehensive data on global poverty showed that 767 million people were estimated to have been living below the international poverty line of $1.90 person per day.

Almost 11 people in every 100 in the world, or 10.7 percent of the global population, were poor by this standard, about 1.7 percentage points down from the global poverty headcount ratio in 2012.

Although this represented a noticeable decline, the poverty rate remained unacceptably high given the low standard of living implied by the $1.90 a day threshold.

On sub-Saharan African the ratio of the number of poor fell by only 4 million between 2012 and 2013, showing a 1.6 percentage drop that left the headcount ratio still at a high of 41.0 percent.

By: Lawrence Segbefia/