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  • False; Ghana’s economy did not grow by 0.6% as claimed by the Deputy PRO of the Education Ministry

    Claim: Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Education Ministry claims that Ghana’s economy grew by 0.6% in 2020.

    Data from the Finance Ministry, IMF, and the World Bank indicate the economy grew by 0.4%

    Full Text

    The Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Education Ministry, Yaw Opoku Mensah, has claimed that Ghana’s economy grew by 0.6% in 2020.

    He made the claim when he appeared as a guest on Boho Bio on Kumasi-based Hello FM on Monday, March 28, 2022.

    “In 2020, the economy grew by 0.6%, an economy that was growing on average by about 7%. Because of COVID-19 restrictions such as the lockdown, the economy grew by 0.6%,” Yaw Opoku Mensah said on the show whilst touting the government’s efforts in building a resilient economy.

    His claim has also been captured in a short video that has been uploaded on YouTube (between minutes 11:15 – 11:45)

    Photo of Yaw Opoku Mensah whilst he was making the claim during the show

    Verification

    To authenticate the claim by Yaw Opoku Mensah, DUBAWA analyzed data from the Finance Ministry, World Bank, and the IMF.

    The three institutions all quote Ghana’s GDP growth for 2020 as 0.4%.

    The Finance Ministry, in its Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy (Page 85), indicated that the economy had grown by 0.4%.

    Data from the World Bank and the IMF have also corroborated the 0.4% figure by the ministry. 

    Ghana’s 0.4% GDP growth rate in 2020 was its lowest in about 35 years.

    How does Ghana’s 0.4% in 2020 compare with others in the Sub-Saharan region?

    Many economies struggled in 2020 because of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving relatively few countries including Ghana, to record positive growth.

    According to the World Bank, economic growth in Western and Central Africa contracted by -0.8% in 2020 whereas growth in East and Southern Africa contracted by -3%.

    Relying on data from the World Bank, and IMF, just about 14 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a positive economic growth rate in 2020.

    CountryWorld BankIMFVaried sources
    Benin3.8%3.8%3.8% (BCEAO)
    Burkina Faso2.0%1.9%2.50% (BCEAO)
    Central African Republic0.0%1%0.4% (AFDB)
    Democratic Republic of Congo0.5%1.7%1.74% (Statista)
    Côte D’Ivoire1.8%2%1.80% (BCEAO)
    Ethiopia6.1%6.1%6.1% (AFDB)
    Ghana0.4%0.4%0.4% (Ghana Finance Ministry)
    Guinea7.0%7.1%5.2% (AFDB)
    Malawi0.8%0.9%1.7% (AFDB)
    Niger1.5%3.6%1.2% (BCEAO)
    Sao Tome and Principe3.1%3%3% (Statista)
    Senegal0.9%1.5%1.50 (BCEAO)
    Tanzania2.0%4.8%4.8% (Deloitte Tanzania)
    Togo1.8%1.8%1.80% (BCEAO)

    Conclusion

    Official data from the Finance Ministry, World Bank and the IMF do not support the claim by the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Education Ministry. In view of that, DUBAWA rates the claim as false. Ghana’s economy grew by 0.4% and not 0.6% as claimed.

  • E-levy controversy: Western Regional Minister’s claim on poverty levels misleading

    Claim: The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, says the income of the average poor person in Ghana is GHC 70 

    After analyzing data from the World Bank and the Ghana Statistical Service on the living standards in the country, DUBAWA has found the claim to be misleading.

    Full Text

    On Tuesday, February 2, 2022, the government held a town hall meeting in Sekondi-Takoradi to educate the public about the proposed electronic transaction levy and to persuade the people to accept its implementation.

    The levy, which was introduced at 1.75 percent, will be on electronic transactions above GHC 100.00 and will be applied to mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances.

    The government’s plan to introduce this tax has been met with opposition, with some asserting that the poor will be most affected if the levy is passed into law. 

    Speaking at the town hall meeting on Tuesday, the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, debunked the assertion and insisted that the poor will not be affected by the tax.

    According to him, the annual income of the average poor person in the country is GHC 70, hence the need for exemption from the tax.

    His comments, originally in Akan, when translated to English will read: 

    “What I know is that, with this e-levy, the poor will be exempted. There is no poor person who will pay the e-levy. This is the analysis I made: In Ghana, when we say someone is very poor, it is someone who, at the very most, makes GHC 70 every year.”

    Accra-based Joy 99.7FM has posted a short clip that captures the claim of the Western Regional Minister on Twitter.

    The 1:18 seconds video has attracted 31.5K views, 244 likes, 621 retweets, and 233 comments. 

    Several other users on Twitter have posted the video of Mr. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah making the claim. Such can be seen here and here.

    The Minister’s claim has also been featured in a number of news publications, including  ghanaweb.com, pulse.com.gh, myjoyonline.com.

    Minister’s Reaction

    DUBAWA first approached the Minister to provide the source of data which suggested that a person can be described as poor if he or she were to receive GHC70 annually.

    “I only picked price points at GHC 70 as representing very poor people…the argument I was making was that poor people would not pay the e-levy. The 2010 population census puts Ghana’s poverty line at GHC 1,314 and so anyone who earns below that per year is a poor person,” he stated, adding; “that is why I intentionally said very poor people, just to make the argument that such people would not pay. Even at GHC 1,314.00 per year, poor people will be making GHC 3.60 (1,314 ÷ 365) per day,” he further clarified.

    Dubawa subjected both his initial claim and clarification to scrutiny beginning with the 2010 population census and found the GHC1,314 clarification to be true as detailed in the following table.

    Page 7 of the 2015 Ghana Poverty Mapping Report reads; sourcing the Ghana Statistical Service, 2010 Population and Housing Census and GLSS6

    Verification

    Given the controversial nature of the e-levy and its potential impact on the poor, DUBAWA was interested in finding out two things;

    1. Whether the Minister’s definition of poverty levels was in line with internationally approved standards.
    2. Whether or not it is true that the poor as defined by international standards will be exempted from paying the e-levy. 

    The World Bank defines poverty as “the lack or insufficiency of money to meet basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter.”

    It adds that “poverty can be measured in monetary terms based on the monthly (or annual) expenditure of a given individual.”

    Currently, the international poverty line is $1.90 a day, and it is the threshold that determines whether someone is living in poverty.

    This would mean that poor people spend up to about $693.5 per year ($1.90 x 365 days).

    If $693.5 is converted to local currency, using the current Bank of Ghana Dollar to cedi rate of 6.1, the average poor person could be spending up to about GHC 4,230.35 per year and not GHC70 as initially stated by the minister.

    Also, in 2019, the Ghana Statistical Service published its latest Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS7). The report provides information for understanding and monitoring living conditions in Ghana.

    According to the report, the average low-earning person in the country expends GHC 872 annually.

    “…the highest quintile has an annual average per capita expenditure of GH¢8,987 per person which is twice the national average of GH¢4,574 and ten times that of the lowest quintile (GH¢872),” page 198 of the GLSS 7 Main Report reads.

    A merged photo of pages 198 and 199 of the GLSS 7 Main Report

    In the area of income, the report indicated that, on average, the poorest earns GHC 1,320 annually and that is also higher than the GHC 70 figure the minister initially mentioned.

    A merged photo of pages 215 and 216 of the GLSS 7 Main Report

    Additionally, the report indicated that the average low-earning households receive GHC 564 from other sources such as social security payments, state pensions, or other sources from the central government such as the LEAP.

    Page 219 of the report highlights

    From the above, it is clear that per international standards,  it is misleading for the minister to initially use GHC70.00 as the threshold for his definition of who a poor person is. It gives a different signal as to who will or will not be captured under the e-levy and that potentially could explain the reason for the controversy this claim has generated.

    But it is also true that per the data from the World Bank and the Ghana Statistical Service, poor people will be exempt from paying the e-levy as stated by the minister.

    This is because if $1.90 a day, which is the World Bank’s threshold for the poor, is converted into the cedi equivalent. The poor in Ghana are expected to receive GHC11 per day and that amount is lower than the GHC100 taxable by the e-levy.

    Also, if the GHC 875 which is the Ghana Living Standard annual figure for poor persons is to be divided into 365, each person will receive a daily amount of GHC2.3 which is also lower than the GHC100 taxable under the e-levy.

    Conclusion

    Even though the minister was generally right about the poor being exempt from paying the e-levy, his decision to use GHC70 to define who a poor person is misleading.

  • Unpacking GIPC’s Claims on Ghana’s Performance in Foreign Direct Investments for 2019 and 2020

    The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) officially launched its investment summit dubbed, “Spark up”, on August 3, 2021, at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra. 

    The Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, Mr Yofi Grant, in his opening remarks said, among other things, that Ghana is the second country in Africa, following Egypt, to receive the highest foreign direct investment.

    “…And for all our size and all that, we were the second-highest recipients of foreign direct investments in Africa after Egypt which is a much bigger economy, but on a per capita basis, Ghana is way ahead of all the other countries on the continent… As I said, in 2020, our FDI was 2.7 billion which is about a 140% increase of what we had recorded the preceding year in 2019 of $1.1 billion. The second half results this year is also extremely encouraging because, despite the fact that the pandemic has gone through a first wave, a second wave, and in some countries, a third wave, we have already been able to attract some over 830 million US dollars in foreign direct investments…” Mr Grant said between 23:30 minutes to 25:08 minutes into the video.

    Defining FDI inflows and outflows

    According to the World Bank, “FDI net inflows are the value of inward direct investment made by non-resident investors in the reporting economy…FDI net outflows are the value of outward direct investment made by the residents of the reporting economy to external economies. Outward direct investment is also called direct investment abroad.”

    Now, we fact-check three claims identified in Mr Grant’s speech.

    Claim 1: Ghana had the second-highest foreign direct investment in Africa, following Egypt in 2020.

    According to the World Investment Report, 2021, South Africa recorded the second highest foreign direct investment in Africa for the year 2020.

    As Mr Grant stated, Egypt retained its position as a leading receiver of FDI in Africa. It remains the highest receiver of FDI in Africa, despite a 16% decline in FDI to Africa in 2020, according to the World Investment Report, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

    Coming in second after Egypt is South Africa who recorded $3.1 billion in FDIs in 2020 as indicated in the World Investment Report (pg 42). Some other African countries were able to attract noticeable FDI’s in 2020 with Ethiopia and Nigeria both coming in third with a recorded $2.4 billion in FDI. Mozambique also came in fourth with $2.3 billion in inflow. 

    Ghana, on the other hand, recorded $1.9 billion in FDI in 2020 according to the World Investment Report thus coming fifth in Africa.

    Thus, South Africa, not Ghana, had the second-highest FDI inflow in Africa for the year 2020.

    Claim 2: Ghana recorded $2.7 billion in FDI in the year 2020.

    As stated in the World Investment Report, Ghana recorded $1.9 billion in FDI in 2020, not $2.7 billion as claimed by Mr Grant.

    According to the World Investment Report (WIR) 2021 (pg. 41), published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in June 2021, Ghana recorded an FDI inflow of $1.9 billion in 2020, a 52% decline in the 2019 FDI of $3.9 billion.

    This is contrary to the $2.7 billion stated by Mr Grant.

    Dubawa contacted GIPC and was informed that the claim made by the CEO, Mr Grant, was right. We were referred to the GIPC Full Year 2020 report as proof. 

    The report sourced information from the World Investment Report (WIR) as did Dubawa. However, we found that the data presented in the GIPC report was slightly different from the WIR’s sourced from the UNCTAD website. 

    GIPC Full Year 2020 report Credit: GIPC

    Paragraph two of the report states that Ghana came in third in 2020, following Egypt and Nigeria who recorded FDI of $5.5 billion and $2.66 billion respectively. The paragraph is in itself contrary to what was stated by Mr Grant at the Spark up workshop, where he stated that Ghana was second and not third. 

    Contrarily, pages 40 and 41 of the WRI indicates that Egypt recorded $5.9 billion in FDI while Nigeria recorded $2.4 billion and Ghana, $1.9 billion all in 2020. 

    Image: Page 40 (World Investment Report 2021)
    Image: Page 41 (World Investment Report, 2021)

    Dubawa has reached out to the World Bank to corroborate the claims but is yet to receive feedback from the organisation regarding FDI in Africa, especially Ghana, for the year 2020.

    Claim 3: Ghana recorded $1.1 billion in FDI in 2019

    According to the 2020 World Investment Report and data from the World Bank, Ghana recorded approximately $3.9 billion in FDI for the year 2019.

    In 2019, Ghana recorded approximately $3.9 billion in FDIs as indicated by the World Bank and the World Investment Report 2020.

    Source: data.worldbank.org
    Source: World Investment Report 2020 (UNCTAD)

    Ghana’s FDI for 2019 was much higher than the $1.1 billion claimed by Mr Grant.

    Conclusion

    Although Ghana has performed remarkably well, considering the pandemic and its related effects on the economy, the country did not record the second-highest FDI inflow in Africa. Additionally, Ghana did not record $1.1 billion and $2.7 billion in FDI for the years 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

  • Did the President of the World Bank Tell the Akufo-Addo Government to Stop Borrowing and Fix the Country?

    Claim: President of the World Bank has asked Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to stop borrowing and fix his country.

    Verdict: While the president of the World Bank had asked the government to hold down on non-concessional borrowing, he did not ask the government to “fix the country.”

    Full Text

    A post shared by a popular Ghanaian blog, Ghana Celebrities,  has gone viral on different social media platforms. In the post, the president of the World Bank is reported to have told the government of Ghana to stop borrowing and fix her country. 

    The post has generated so many comments and has been shared by one other popular Ghanaian blog, Aba_the_great1. At the time of going to press, the post had received 207 likes and seven comments.

    Verification

    At a recent virtual Media Roundtable discussion by the World Bank for some journalists in Western and Central Africa, the president of the World Bank, David Malpas, made some observations about Ghana’s current status.

    His comment was a response to a question posed by a Ghanaian journalist, George Wiafe, who sought his view on Ghana’s debt stock.  Although Malpas had advised the government to hold down on borrowing as a result of future impacts, he did not wade into the #FixTheCountry campaign which has become a major topic in Ghana.

    In the original news article regarding the issue by Myjoyonline.com, Mr Malpas was quoted as saying “holding down the non-concessional debt means higher interest rate debt because that burdens the further generations”, thus making the social media post misleading.

    #FixIt Campaign and Misinformation in Ghana

    Since the beginning of the #FixTheCountry, #FixTheCountryNow, #FixTheGhana campaign —a youth-led social media campaign in Ghana to demand accountability and development from political leaders— the tendency for social media users to share old photos and videos to pass them as new has become common, making the work of fact-checking organizations in Ghana very timely.

    While Dubawa and other fact-checking organizations in Ghana are working to curb misinformation in this period as we do every day, it is important for social media users and media consumers to have knowledge of some digital tools that could be used to verify information that comes in the form of images and videos. Dubawa has therefore put together some basic tools and tips for fact-checking images and videos. Familiarity with the tools and tips will enhance the ability to mitigate the spread of misleading information such as the one in this fact check.

  • NDC 2020 Manifesto Launch: Mahama’s Introductory Speech Fact-checked

    Ahead of the 2020 elections in December, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) launched their manifesto, the ‘People’s Manifesto’ on Monday, 7 September 2020.

    At the launch, the presidential candidate of the party, John Dramani Mahama, in his introductory speech (1:59:22- 2:06:45 of the recorded Facebook live video) was heard making a number of claims centred mainly on the economic state of Ghana and on a government’s COVID-19 management. 

    A transcript of Mahama’s speech which captures the context in which the identified claims were made reads:

    “…In many cases, countries considered relatively less advanced with smaller economies are emerging more resilient and less affected by the global shocks than some countries that are considered advanced. The case of Vietnam, a relatively smaller country bordering China, and therefore closer to the original source of the Coronavirus pandemic has survived much better with relatively less infections and deaths than known global superpowers...Excessive borrowing over the last four years has placed Ghana in a high debt risk category, with absolutely nothing to show for it…”

    Consequently, Dubawa accessed the available facts concerning some identified claims, in producing its attendant verdicts.

    Claim 1: Vietnam has survived the Coronavirus pandemic much better with relatively lesser infections and deaths than known global superpowers

    Verdict: Reports from the WHO, CDC, COVID-19 data sites and media show that Vietnam has recorded relatively lesser infections and deaths compared to the known global superpowers.

    The countries largely referred to as the global superpowers are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council namely the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Russian Federation, China and France.

    Dubawa accessed the statistics for the population, confirmed cases/infections and deaths as at 7 September 2020, recorded for Vietnam, US, UK, Russian Federation, China and France tabulated below:

    CountryPopulationConfirmed casesDeaths
    Vietnam97,338,5791,04935
    US331,394,2216,189,488187,541
    UK67,957,887347,15641,551
    Russian Federation145,946,9921,030,69017,871
    China1,440,441,98590,5514,737
    France65,302,500307,47630,547
    Source: 
    Population: Worldometer
    Confirmed case & deaths: WHO

    Comparatively, from the tabulated statistics, Vietnam, which has a population higher than the UK and France, has recorded smaller rates of infection and death than the two countries.

    Vietnam is reported to have confirmed its first COVID-19 case on 23 January 2020, not long after the outbreak in Wuhan, and yet, there were no reported Covid-19 deaths until July 31, 2020. 

    Moreso, the Vietnam Coronavirus tracker also reveals that out of the 1,059 confirmed cases, there have been 902 Covid-19 recoveries in Vietnam, with no critical cases treated in Intensive Care Unit and an 84% recovery rate of the total cases.

    In June 2020, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) described Vietnam’s response to controlling the pandemic as an excellent credit to the country’s leadership strategies.

    “Vietnam has excelled in controlling COVID-19 through strong leadership and coordination, rapid case detection and isolation, aggressive contact tracing, and strict quarantine measures,” the CDC said.

    Media sites such as the BBC, the Star and publications such as the Policy Forum have also reported on Vietnam’s proven effective response to the pandemic.

    Claim 2: Excessive borrowing over the last four years has placed Ghana in a high debt risk category

    Verdict: Even though Ghana is in high-risk debt distress category due to excessive borrowing, it is not as a result of events of the last four years. Ghana has been in this category since 2015 when an IMF and World Bank report published in April 2015 concluded Ghana to be so on account of breaches in the debt-service to revenue ratio.

    Two documents were accessed to ascertain this claim.

    The first document titled Joint Ghana World Bank-IMF Debt Sustainability Analysis document dated December 2019, an analysis of Ghana’s joint bank-fund sustainability, shows that Ghana’s risk of external debt distress and overall risk of debt distress were truly both high.

    “External and overall debt are at high risk of debt distress… Nonetheless, debt is assessed as sustainable thanks to favourable market access, the authorities’ commitment to macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline, and the potential for steeper than assumed fiscal consolidation. In the short term, fiscal discipline is necessary to ensure debt sustainability and maintain market confidence, but external factors, including worsening global risk sentiment, still pose significant risks,” the IMF document reads.

    However, Mahama’s assertion that this is a result of excessive borrowing specifically from over the last four years is inaccurate as we found Ghana’s categorisation by the IMF was since 2015. 

    An IMF Ghana report on the ‘Request For A Three-Year Arrangement Under The Extended Credit Facility’ (pg13&14) published in April 2015 also judged Ghana’s debt at a high risk distress. 

    “The Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) concludes that Ghana is at a high risk of debt distress, on account of breaches in the debt-service to revenue ratio over 2015–17 and after 2021. The authorities are committed to limit their borrowing plans to loans with a minimum grant element of 35 per cent, with possible exceptions in line with the debt limits policy… Bank of Ghana gross financing to the budget in 2015 will be limited to 5 per cent of previous year’s revenue, using only marketable financial instruments”, the report read.

    In 2015, the IMF stated in the report that Ghana’s public debt continued to rise at an unsustainable pace, however, in the 2019 report, the IMF judged Ghana’s debt as sustainable. 

    Another document titled, The fall and rise of Ghana’s debt jointly published by the Integrated Social Development Centre Ghana, Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, SEND Ghana, VAZOBA Ghana, All-Afrikan Networking Community Link for International Development, Kilombo Ghana and Abibimman Foundation Ghana in October 2016 was accessed to verify the claim. 

    The document, in analysing how Ghana had at the time, ‘fallen in a new debt trap’, also shows that Ghana was categorised as a high risk of debt distress by the World Bank in 2015.

    “In April 2014 Ghana was assessed as at moderate risk of debt distress but ‘approaching high-risk levels’. At the next review in March 2015 this changed to being confirmed as at “high risk of debt distress”. Yet, seven months later in October 2015, the World Bank broke its own rules based on its own assessment by giving a guarantee for (high-cost) bonds for a country rated as at high risk of debt distress,” the document reads

    Therefore, even though Ghana is in a high risk of debt distress category due to excessive borrowing, it is not a matter of the last four years as Mahama claimed. Ghana has been in this category since 2015 when an IMF and World Bank report published in April 2015 concluded Ghana to be so on account of breaches in the debt-service to revenue ratio.

    Conclusion

    Conclusively, from the claims identified in Mahama’s introductory speech at the NDC Manifesto launch 2020, one was true and another was false.

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