For Richer, For Poorer: GDP Revisions and Africa’s Statistical Tragedy

Morten Jerven

African Affairs 112 (446), 138-147, 2012

On 5 November 2010 Ghana Statistical Services announced that it was revising the GDP estimates upwards by over 60 percent, suggesting that in previous GDP estimates economic activities worth about US$13 billion had been missed. After the revision a range of new activities were accounted for, and as a result Ghana was suddenly upgraded from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country. In the fall of 2011 Nigeria also announced a forthcoming upward revision of its GDP. Without presenting the public with any facts or figures, nor a date for the revision, it was announced by the director of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics that Nigeria soon would join Ghana in escaping poverty according to official statistics.

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