The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has ranked Ghana among 12 other African countries in the medium development group of the 2019 Human Development Report which seeks to measure the socioeconomic progress of countries.
With a global ranking of 142 out of 189 countries and a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.596, Ghana joined the group that included other African countries like Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Kenya, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Despite having an HDI which was below an average of 0.634 for countries in the medium human development group, Ghana was above an average of 0.541 for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Highlights of the report which was titled, “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century” indicated that while gaps in basic living standards are narrowing with unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and diseases, new equalities in terms of access to tertiary education, seismic effect of technology and climate crisis are emerging.
Speaking at a media briefing in Accra on Thursday, UNDP Economic Specialist, Kordzo Sedegah, explained that comparison of performance among countries should be along similarities in demographic such as population size.
He, therefore, said that Ghana had performed well as compared to countries with similar size of population like Cameroon and Kenya who were ranked 150 and 147 respectively.
He also explained that a country may be ranked lower despite recording an increase in HDI from previous ranking as a result of competitiveness among other countries.
The report also highlighted that between 1990 and 2018, Ghana's life expectancy at birth had increased by 7.0 years from 56.8 years in 1990 to 63.8 years in 2018.
According to a UNDP statement, “Mean years of schooling increased by 2.3 years from 4.9 years in 1990 to 7.2 years in 2018. Expected years of schooling increased by 3.9 years. Ghana's Gross national Income (GNI) per capita increased by about 120 per cent between 1990 and 2018 from $1863 to $4099.”
Frederick Mugisha, who is a UNDP Economic advisor, called for a rethink in how to build resilient local economies and measure human progress.
He cited an example by saying that a measure for long and healthy life should be about expanding opportunities for people to avoid premature death and disability rather than life expectancy while “access to knowledge should be about broadening the horizon of what is possible, not just years of schooling”.
“In measuring decent standard of living, we need to move beyond basic needs to a life of genuine choice and freedom,” he added.
Seychelles with a ranking of 62 and an HDI of 0.801 has for the first time joined other African countries that included Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius and South Africa high in the high human development group of the report.