ACCRA: The World Bank (WB) is optimistic that global poverty is on its way out, President Jim Yong Kim said here on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
This optimism comes because, for the first time in human history, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced to 10 percent, relative to 36 percent in 1990.
Kim made the statement at a joint press conference with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama ahead of the launch of “Poverty in Rising Africa” in the Ghanaian capital.
“There is no better place than here in Ghana to show the world that great progress can be made to end extreme poverty in just two decades; because of the work of several governments, Ghana cut its poverty rate by more than half, from 55 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012,” Kim noted.
He said three critical reasons for Ghana’s success included structural transformation, which shifted from a wholly agricultural-based into non-agricultural-based self-employment and, to a lesser degree, wage jobs; investment in education for Ghanaians; and growing urban areas creating higher earning jobs.
The World Bank has twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of populations in developing countries.
Kim said Ghana had become a shining example because he country made gains in areas such as maternal mortality, infant mortality, and structural transformation, among others.
Although there has been enormous progress made towards these goals, Kim conceded that there were difficulties along the path, including low economic growth, low commodity prices and pending interest rate hikes.
He was also concerned that half of the 700 million people living in extreme poverty could be found in Sub-Sahara Africa.
He was however hopeful that once the right investments are made in education, health and other economic sectors, the goals would be achieved as “70 percent of people lifted out of poverty in the last two decades were lifted out because of economic growth.”
President Mahama lauded the WB for the support it gave to West Africa to fight Ebola in the sub-region.
“You have shown that you are not just fair-weather friends, but friends indeed,” Mahama said.
“In Ghana, poverty has become largely a rural phenomenon, with 15 percent of rural people living in extreme poverty while two percent of urban dwellers are also in poverty,” he added.
He urged the Bank to identify some transformational programs that could reduce poverty levels, calling for a comprehensive development program for the Savannahs belt of the region.