Friday, 4 April 2008

Making progress in the fight against poverty in Ghana

According to a UN report launched in February and circulated today – the 2007 Ghana National Human Development Report "Towards a More Inclusive Society", Ghana is set to become the first African country to meet the first Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty: if current growth rates are maintained, the poverty rate would be halved by 2009 – 6 years ahead of the target.

This is a remarkable achievement, and should be celebrated and learnt from. It is not a coincidence the Ghana also recently won recognition for being among the 10 fastest reforming countries in Africa in terms of the ease of doing business. It was also the first country to submit itself for review under the African Peer Review Mechanism – the Africa-led process for driving good governance.

But much remains to be done, not least the high level of poverty and social exclusion in the three northern regions of the country (poverty reduction has been more significant in cocoa producing regions). The challenge is to ensure all of Ghana’s people are able to participate in and benefit from the opportunities that growth brings.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

DFID puts growth back at the heart of development

Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, set a fresh, bold direction for the UK’s aid agency, the Department for International Development, on Monday. In a speech at an event co-hosted by Business Action for Africa and the Overseas Development Institute, he pointed out that economic growth has accounted for 80% of poverty reduction around the world since 1980, helping as many as half a billion people to lift themselves out of poverty.

He also recognised the important role that the private sector has to play in helping developing countries grow and fight poverty – investing, creating jobs and increasing poor people’s access to affordable goods and services.

The words are a breadth of fresh air, and the task now is to ensure that they are reflected right across DFID – its priorities, programmes and structures – as well as across the development community as a whole.

My full blog is posted on Business Fights Poverty, the new professional network for those passionate about fighting poverty through good business.