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Fact-checking Africa Facts Zone’s Claims on Ghana’s Global and African Positioning: A Case of over oversimplification

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A post by Africa Facts Zone  on February 27th, 2020 pertaining to Ghana’s position in Africa and the world has generated several shares and comments capturing a mix of commendations and doubt.

Image Source: Facebook.com

Dubawa took a look at the claims mentioned to ascertain truths and non truths from the post. 

But before that, we reached out to the owner of the page, IsimaOdeh, on twitter to find out the information sources used in the post. According to IsimaOdeh, the claims were based on basic google research.  Upon further research, Dubawa found that although the information posted could be found online, some were dated while some were unreliable. We address the claims successively below. 

Claim 1: Ghana has free education.

Partly true. Ghana has free compulsory universal basic education and free senior high school education available to public schools. Tertiary education, however, with the exception of  Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under the Ghana Education Service(GES), is not free.

Verification:

The Ghanaian government, in a bid to get more children into school, set up the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) in the 1990s. The programme made provisions to cover non-tuition fees of children who are of primary school going age. 

The FCUBE policy makes access to basic education in Ghana a right for all citizens irrespective of gender, geographical location, religion or ethnic background. 

Basic education here covers two years kindergarten, six years primary and three years junior high school.

The policy is embedded in the 1992 Constitution which stipulates that,

“All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right, basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all.”

In more recent times, education in Ghana has now included a free education policy for public secondary level schools. The free SHS policy was launched on September 12, 2017 by the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration. The government’s move was to remove pressures from otherwise burdened parents by covering secondary school level bills including feeding fees, tuition fees, admission fees, library fees, examination fees, free textbooks, free boarding etc.

All educational levels in private schools are not covered in either the FCUBE policy or the Free SHS policy in the country. 

Claim 2: Ghana has free basic healthcare.

True. The National Health Insurance Scheme in Ghana is the authority that is charged with managing and ensuring free basic healthcare for all persons in Ghana.

Verification:

Ghana has a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring access to basic healthcare services to all citizens. The facility is, however, limited in its execution with some tests, medication and treatments not catered for by the scheme. In some cases the nature of requests made by doctors, and depending on the specific case, may warrant payments by patients or be covered by the NHIS.

Additionally, not all hospitals accept or operate with the NHIS. The scheme has a list of accredited facilities that offer services to citizens including some pharmacies, polyclinics, district and regional hospitals, among others

Claim 3: Ghana was the world’s fastest growing economy in 2018 and 2019

False. Ghana was one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the sixth, in 2018, and 15th in 2019 after it was projected to remain in that rank in 2019 as well.

Verification: 

Economic growth is the process by which a nation’s wealth increases over time. It is measured by the monetary value of goods and services produced within a country in a specified time period. A country’s placement on global economic growth ranking is a distinguishing indicator for thriving or failing economies.

In 2018, the International Monetary Fund(IMF) declared that the world’s fastest growing economies were from the developing countries with Ghana coming in sixth with a 5.6% growth in its economy. At the time, Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the country was 6.3%.

According to data from the World Bank, Ghana was the world’s 15th fastest growing economy with a 6.5% growth rate in 2019. Among Sub-Saharan African countries however, it was 6th.

Claim 4: Ghana is Africa’s third most peaceful country.

True. Ghana is the 3rd most peaceful country in Africa, according to the Global Peace Index.

Verification:

According to the 14th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness, Ghana is the third most peaceful country in Africa. 

The report, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and covering the year 2020, presents the most comprehensive data on the state of global peace. Ghana is 43rd globally and 3rd in sub-Saharan Africa.

Image source: Global Peace Index 2020

Claim 5: Ghana has Africa’s third strongest currency.

True. Ghana holds Africa’s third strongest currency when held up against the US dollar.

Verification:

The strength of a currency is based on the rate of international market demand. Based on this, on a global scale, two of the most powerful currencies are the US Dollar and the British Pound against which all other currencies are held because they are used for all manner of transactions  worldwide.

Using the US Dollar as a benchmark, the top 5 African currencies in 2020 were the Libyan Dinar(1 USD = LD 1.41), the Tunisian Dinar(1 USD = DT 2.87), the Ghana Cedi(1 USD = GH₵ 5.49), the Moroccan Dirham(1 USD = MAD 9.89), and the Botswana Pula(1 USD = P 10.90).

In 2021, the Libyan Dinar dropped from its spot at the top after the Libyan Central Bank introduced a new unified exchange rate in January 2021. The new rate is 4.8 Dinar to 1 US dollar with the Tunisian Dinar coming first with DT 2.73 to 1 US dollar.. Ghana however will retain its 3rd position as the Ghana cedi still comes after the Libyan dinar at about GHC 5.72 to 1 US dollar.

Claim 6: Ghana is the fourth most powerful country in Africa.

False. Ghana is Africa’s fifth most powerful country.

Verification:

What is a powerful country?

Countries are said to be powerful based on leadership, economic influence, political influence, strong international alliances and strong military. Such countries are found to dominate news headlines and are considered relevant in shaping the global outlook.  Some of the world’s most powerful countries are the United States of America, Russia, and China. 

Factors like the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Population and Per Capita Gross Domestic Product are valued to measure power ranking in economic terms. 

The U.S.news together with BAV Group and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania produced a report on the world’s most powerful countries in 2020, using variables such as entrepreneurship, cultural influence, citizenship, openness for business, military power, and quality of life.

Egypt maintained its number one position in Africa from 2019, followed by South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Tunisia and others.  According to this report, Ghana is fifth in the African best or most powerful countries

Other basic Google searches including this one did not mention Ghana at all in their list of powerful countries.

Claim 7: Ghana is the fourth country in Africa to have the cheapest internet.

False. Ghana’s internet is the sixth cheapest in Africa according to available information.

Verification: 

In 2019, according to Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), data affordability is achieved when 1GB of mobile broadband data costs no more that 2% of average monthly income in a country. Africa, according to news reports, pays some of the highest internet user costs in the world.

In 2020, after updating their mode of calculating the cheapest data-only mobile-broadband basket per economy using the provision of 1.5GB high speed internet over a thirty day period, A4AI reports that Ghanaians are paying 2.03% of Gross National Income (GNI).

A report by Statista.com on most affordable internet usage in Africa found Ghana placing 6th in 2020; a gigabyte cost an average of 0.94 US Dollars. Somalia, according to the report, has the cheapest internet in Africa with one gigabyte costing 0.50 US Dollars. By contrast, the highest price was recorded in Sao Tome and Principe, where one gigabyte cost 28.26 U.S. dollars on average.

Image source: Statista.com

Roselena Ahiable is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Roselena has years of demonstrated work experience in advertising, sales and marketing, having worked with some of the leading brands in Ghana. She has completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, with specialisation in Public Relations and Advertising. She has also received advanced training in print and broadcast journalism. Roselena also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana. As a trained journalist with interest in research, Roselena provides the team insight in news and media trend analysis.

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