Ghana is one of the best performing countries in Africa in terms of economic growth, governance, structural reforms and poverty reduction, Diko Jacob Mukete, Officer in-charge of the Ghana Country Office of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.
"Indeed, income poverty in the country declined from 42% in 1997 to around 35% in 2005, which is one of the fastest rates of poverty reduction in Africa, and the economic growth rate was of over 6 percent in 2006," he said.
He added: "Ghana's ambition to become a middle income country by 2015 is realistic, and the prospects look good as long as the Government continues to implement economic reforms, maintain macroeconomic stability, and close the infrastructure gap, particularly in the area of energy."
Mr Mukete was speaking at Kasoa during the launch of the Urban Poverty Reduction Project (UPRP) for 12 districts.
They are; Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Sekondi/Takoradi, Wenchi, Agogo, Akim Oda, Koforidua, Ho, Apam, Swedru and Kasoa.
The UPRP is a five-year project, aimed at enhancing Ghana's effort at achieving the Millennium Development Goal that calls for a reduction by half the proportion of the poor living on less than a dollar a day
Mr Mukete said Ghana was one of the few African countries expected to meet the Millennium Development Goal to cut poverty in half by 2015.
He said despite the continued decline in the number of people living below the national poverty line in the country as a whole, urban poverty was becoming a challenge.
"In urban settlements, increasing numbers of the poor lack access to basic social infrastructure, goods and services as well as the resources to become economically productive.
"We are, therefore, encouraged by the significant efforts being made by the Government to address this situation, through the various reform programs and projects aimed at achieving a higher level of sustainable growth to reduce poverty," he said.
Mr Mukete said the specific project objective for the UPRP was to improve socio-economic growth of poor urban settlements.
He said the project's conceptual approach was also in accordance with the Bank's existing urban development policy, which identified the integrated urban development approach as the best way to maximize the impact of the Bank's operations to improve the well-being of the urban population.
"Equally important is the fact that the project is in line with the country's second Poverty Reduction Strategy, the GPRS II. The total cost of the project is UA27.78 million (about US$41 million) of which African Development Bank will finance UA25 million (US$37 million) with a concessional loan, and the Government of Ghana will finance UA2.78 million (about US$4 million)".
He said this project was a follow-up to the African Development Fund's Poverty Reduction Project of UA12.36 million (over US$18 million), which was satisfactorily completed in 2005 with over 1,000 sub-projects in 80 districts reaching out to over 1 million beneficiaries.