EconomyFact Check

Mahama’s statement about Ghana recording the highest food inflation in the world FALSE

Claim: Leader of the National Democratic Congress, John Mahama, has stated that Ghana has the highest food inflation in the world

Having analysed the World Bank’s Food Security Update for October 13, 2022, we found the affirmation to be false.

Full Text

Leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Mahama, on Thursday, October 27, 2022, delivered a speech at the University of Professional Studies, Accra.

During the lecture, themed “Building the Ghana we want,” the former President spoke about the state of the country’s economy. He also proffered solutions to the Akufo-Addo-led government for turning the situation around.

While quoting figures from some of the country’s economic indices, he stated that Ghana has the highest food inflation in the world.

“Ghana is on record as having the highest food inflation in the world at 122% notwithstanding the much-touted but grossly mismanaged planting for food and jobs program,” he said.

The announcement can be found between minutes 55:04 to 55:20 of his speech which was widely televised and streamed on various media platforms across the country.

Verification

DUBAWA Ghana relied on the October 13 World Bank’s Food Security Update to ascertain the accuracy of the claim. 

According to the report, “domestic food price inflation (measured as year-on-year change in the food component of a country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI)) remains high. 

“Information from the latest month between June and September 2022 for which food price inflation data are available shows high inflation in almost all low- and middle-income countries,” the report added.

The World Bank explained that “high energy and fertiliser costs, poor weather in key producing countries, and risks from the war in Ukraine have led to high domestic food price inflation with most countries experiencing year-on-year increases of between 10 and 30 pe cent.” 

Page three of the World Bank report also listed the top ten countries with the highest food price inflation in nominal and real terms.

A table showing the top 10 list of countries with high inflation [Source: World Bank].

The 34% year-on-year nominal inflation figure quoted by the World Bank was similar to the 34.4% quoted by the Ghana Statistical Service for August 2022 (Page 6).

In Real Food Inflation terms, which the report defined as food inflation minus overall inflation, Ghana was not listed among the top 10. Zimbabwe in southern Africa tops the chart with 68%.

Where could Mahama’s figure have come from?

On October 4, the World Bank published its October 2022 Africa Pulse Report; included in the report was the Food Price Index in Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2022 (Page 37).

According to the report, since January, Ghana has experienced a 122% increase in food prices so far this year.

A chart showing the rate at which the cost of food has increased in Sub-Saharan [Source: World Bank].

DUBAWA Ghana reached out to Svetlana Markova, an External Affairs Officer for Western and Central Africa, World Bank, for further clarifications regarding the two reports.

We sought to understand if the chart in the Africa Pulse Report featured the top ten countries with high food inflation in Sub-Saharan Africa and, more importantly, whether Ghana could be said to have the highest food inflation in the world.

In her response, she indicated that the Africa Pulse Report on food inflation only featured selected countries. 

“In Africa’s Pulse, Figure 1.23 only depicts the food inflation of select countries (ten in total) in the region. The set of countries with food inflation in the region is larger than that. We never stated in the report that these countries have the highest food inflation in the region,” she said via email correspondence.

Commenting on the Food Security Report, she explained that the report “collects data on food inflation of all countries available in the region.”

“Zimbabwe has not only the highest rate of headline inflation but also food inflation in Africa,” she added.

Email correspondence with Svetlana Markova of the World Bank Group.

Conclusion

While the cumulative inflation figure for January to September 2022 is indeed 122%, as was reported by the ex-president, the figure cannot be said to be the highest inflation rate across the world. Data from the World Bank does not back the assertion that Ghana has the highest food inflation in the world. Again, the data we believe John Mahama relied on only featured selected countries, including Ghana. Hence, it will be wrong to assert that Ghana has the highest food inflation in the world.

At least Zimbabwe, Lebanon, and other countries rank higher than Ghana when food inflation is discussed.

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