Why Ghana is not better than Nigeria

Nigeria is undergoing a series of economic reforms designed to revitalide its economy for long-term stability and growth. These reforms have introduced shocks to the system, resulting in temporary financial hardships while Nigerians remain hopeful, anticipating that these reforms will ultimately lead to improved economic conditions. Analysts have scrutinised the current government’s performance over the past year using various indices such as GDP, GDP per capita, inflation, exchange rates, and external reserves. These metrics do not give a complete insight into the country’s socio-economic well-being.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the total value of goods and services produced within a country over a specified period. GDP per capita, which divides GDP by the population, offers an average economic output per person. However, GDP as an indicator is increasingly viewed as limited in its ability to reflect true economic wellness as it does not consider critical factors such as income distribution, unemployment, and economic sustainability. Consequently, a higher GDP or GDP growth rate does not necessarily signify superior economic performance or wealth. In some cases, a high GDP growth rate may be driven by unsustainable practices or a disproportionate focus on expanding specific sectors, rather than fostering holistic and inclusive economic development.

A country’s external reserves are crucial for managing economic shocks and maintaining foreign exchange stability. Large external reserves act as a safety net, increasing foreign investor confidence and potentially attracting more foreign direct investment. However, concentrating solely on building foreign reserves can have drawbacks. For instance, a country might prioritize reserves over investments in critical areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, which are essential for long-term development. Balancing the accumulation of external reserves with necessary domestic investments is vital to ensure sustainable economic growth and overall national well-being.

The value of a country’s currency is influenced by various factors including the value of external reserves, interest rates, economic and political stability, balance of trade, and economic policy. Some countries allow their currency to float, determined by market forces, while others peg it. There is a common misconception that a stronger currency signifies a stronger economy. Japan and China, despite having large and robust economies, do not have the world’s strongest currencies. High-export countries may prefer a weaker currency to make their goods more competitive internationally. Thus, currency value alone is not a definitive measure of economic wellness.

Inflation is the rise in prices for goods and services. While high inflation can erode purchasing power, moderate inflation can signal economic growth and increased consumer spending. However, uncontrolled inflation can lead to economic instability. Nigeria’s current high inflation rates are concerning, but the government’s efforts to control inflation and increase the national minimum wage could help mitigate its negative impacts. Therefore, while inflation is an important metric, it must be understood within its broader economic context.

Fiscal deficit occurs when government expenditure surpasses revenue which often evokes concerns about economic stability. However, it is crucial to recognize that a higher fiscal deficit does not inherently signify economic challenges. It can result from prudent investments in essential sectors such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and responses to emergencies or economic downturns. Deficit financing is a strategic tool for stimulating growth, supporting job creation, and bolstering economic resilience.

Looking beyond traditional economic indicators is imperative for assessing a country’s wellness. The Human Development Index (HDI), which incorporates life expectancy, education, and per capita income, offers a more holistic perspective on well-being. Similarly, the Gini coefficient provides insights into income inequality, with lower values indicating a fairer distribution of wealth. Additionally, the poverty rate highlights the proportion of the population living below the poverty line, while the unemployment rate reflects job availability. These indices, alongside others, such as environmental sustainability measures and social progress indicators, contribute to a more nuanced understanding of a nation’s overall welfare.

While Nigeria may exhibit higher inflation rates and fiscal deficits to GDP ratio than Ghana, alongside lower GDP growth and GDP per capita figures, these metrics alone do not signify Ghana’s socio-economic superiority. A holistic evaluation encompassing a range of economic, social, and environmental indicators is imperative to ascertain the true state of each nation’s wellness. Thus, any declarations regarding Ghana’s superiority over Nigeria should be approached cautiously, recognizing the multifaceted nature of the factors influencing overall prosperity.

Kenechukwu Aguolu FCA, PMP, CBAP writes from

Abuja, Nigeria via [email protected]