Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forget Third World Living, We're Middle Income Baby!

A lot has happened in Ghana since I've been away from my blog. The last time I checked in, I was the proud citizen of an impoverished 'Third World' country. Fast forward one month and Ghana is now being touted as a  "middle income" country". In case, you are wondering where the TARDIS that took us to the year 2100 is parked, it has something to do with re-working (fudging ?) by the Ghana Statistical Service in what is called 're-basing'. 

I would love to take you through a thorough exploration of re-basing but to be honest, it is all a tad over my head.  For an in-depth analysis, check out the Ghana Statistical Service newsletter here. My main question is why someone forgot to  tell my paycheck about the change from Third World to Middle Income status. 

Hmm...upon closer reflection, there may actually be something to this middle income reality. I have noticed: 
  • The number of Range Rovers burning my retinas at night have gone up exponentially
  • Luxury apartments are springing up everywhere
  • Marina Mall by the airport is nearing completion
  • The Hilton Hotel is apparently "Coming soon"
However, I also look around me and still see mounds of rubbish, desperate people begging outside churches and a complete lack of access to toilet facilities for a significant proportion of people in Ghana's capital. *Sigh* it  all still feels pretty 'Third World' to me. 
The caption for this 2006  picture from the BBC website says "...Here, residents in Nima in Ghana's capital, show how debris is spoiling their community." Source: www.bbc.co.uk.


novisi said...

okay, i think i get it!!!
there's a valley of affluence in the midst of huge mountains of filth and deprivation!!! few SUVs are zooming at extreme velocities past millions over pot-holed and man-holed roads; all 'in the middle of the incomes'!!!
but still, i side with Ayi Kwei Armah's title. seems like a joke presented for the healing of a wound!!!

Nana Yaw Sarpong said...

it's the kind of contrast you might find in other countries. I think the target should at working to bridge the gap, but we are failing there. It's in Ghana that people would own 2 or more SUVs without them paying huge taxes on those. Same for housing. And yes,Ayi Kwei Armah was right. The paunches of these guys are still growing big.
But is it not possible to say Ghana is middle income? Think about those people who tell many African countries what they are: ender-developed, developing etc. But these same guys would never change the status so why can't we change it ourselves?

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

this is a dual economy you are looking at, where one part lives in luxury and another in absolute poverty. As for middle or low or high income country, the development economies have moved from using GDP to measure the extent of growth. In fact we nowadays talk more about development rather than growth. GDP and all its sibs do not tell the depth of penetration of wealth however development using indices like those created by the UN (Human Development Index HDI) does. So that if BMW comes to Ghana our GDP would soar but how deep would their wealth sink to the poor. The oil revenue would push Ghana farther into the Middle income zone but Oil has always benefited the few (1%) rich of the society. the majority would feel nothing.

Boatemaa said...

It feels pretty Third World to me too! Oh, and it's good to have you back. Missed your posts.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Novisi Valley of affluence sounds like an apt description

@Nana Yaw Sarpong Good point about changing our own statuses.. I'm just worried that it is not realistic!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Nana Fredua-Agyeman Dual economy is leading to two worlds...so sad that the poorer world is smaller than the bigger...

@Boatemaa Good to be back!! Missed the blogosphere and Ghana :)