A survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to track the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local economies indicates that most businesses have recorded a whopping 90 percent reduction in sales since the virus hit Ghana in March 2020.
These businesses also recorded a 72 percent drop in production.
The shock caused by the pandemic has had considerable impacts on Ghanaian businesses, forcing many firms to cut costs by reducing staff hours, cutting wages, and in some cases, laying off workers. The Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service earlier this year showed that about 770,000 workers, which is 25.7 percent of the total workforce, had their wages reduced and about 42,000 employees were laid off during the country’s COVID-19 partial lockdown.
The pandemic also led to a reduction in working hours for close to 700,000 workers. To understand the effect of COVID-19 on the local economies, the Ghana Statistical Service, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), conducted the Local Economies Tracker in all the 260 districts in the 16 regions of Ghana.
The survey was carried out between May 28 and June 30, 2020, on a total of 2,770 communities or localities. The districts in the various regions were segmented into three domains; that is the locked-down districts which include 40 districts, border districts made up of 47 districts, and other districts which do not fall into any of these categories.
The Government Statistician, Prof Samuel Kobina Annim, announcing the results of the survey indicated that although there was a general reduction in sales and production, there were variations in the effects COVID-19 had in the various districts. He said, “Consistent with what we found from the household, firm tracker and our second-quarter GDP where oil contracted by 3.2 percent and non-oil GDP contracted by 3.4 percent, from the local economy tracker perspective, we equally find that production and sales went down during the period of COVID-19.
Specifically, we saw border districts getting the highest reduction in sales and production. At least, nine out of ten localities indicated a reduction in sales and at least seven out of ten localities in border districts indicated a reduction in their production.”
“In contrast to localities in border districts, we saw that the highest contraction in labour supply and cost of credit in locked down districts. Specifically, in localities in the locked-down districts, two out of ten saw a contraction in labour supply and close to 30 per cent saw an increase in cost of credit,” he added. Prices and product availability according to the survey, the prices of products increased in all localities by an average of 4.2 percent.
Generally, food and non-alcoholic beverages recorded the highest price increase (4.8 per cent), followed by transport (4.1 per cent) and alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics (4.0 percent). Prof Annim noted that “Although the overall prices of transport increased by 4.1 percent, localities in the lockdown districts saw a reduction in transport prices possibly due to the restrictions on movements in such districts. Localities in border districts recorded higher price increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages compared to price surges in lockdown and other districts.”
Expectations of Economic Recoveries
The Local Economies Tracker further showed that approximately 38 percent of localities think it will take more than a year for the local economy to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The expectations of economic recovery in locked-down areas were pretty much mixed. While we saw about 37 percent indicating that the recovery is going to take more than a year, we had about 45 percent of them indicating that it’s going to take just about a year. We had about 14 percent indicating that they were uncertain. In contrast, in border and districts, we saw more than a third of these localities indicating that they are uncertain about how COVID-19 is going to recover in their localities. This clearly points to a sense of possible information gap across these three districts as this survey has shown,” Prof Annim said.
By: Naa Anyema Collison