Covid 19 has cast a shadow on growth and development in Africa. Many a country in Africa is struggling to survive the negative effects that the Coronavirus has had on the economy. Nigeria had gone through two recessions in the past and so were many African countries. We should not forget that a recession is a period of two consecutive negative growths. From negative growth which was a recession, we got 0.8% positive growth. All of a sudden, second quarter of this year, Nigeria had a 5.0 % growth in the GDP. It was a tremendous leap forward for the economy. Some people started disparaging the record of the growth in the GDP; that it was all a made-up figure. The assertion has been that they have not seen the effects of the increase on the common people in the streets. This has engendered this article, for we need to know the difference between economic growth and development.
What is the difference between economic growth and economic development?
In the early 1960s, the United Nations had assumed an exponential growth rate of about 6% in the emerging nations of Africa; including Nigeria. To the utmost amazement of many around the world, many countries surpassed the 6% economic growth rate but unfortunately; there were a lot of problems in the economies, which were affecting the people negatively. The United Nations has thought the economic growth witnessed by these countries should have a trickle-down effect on the lives of the people, which invariably would be development.
Economic Growth refers to the increment in the number of goods and services produced by an economy. Economic development, on the other hand, refers to the reduction and elimination of poverty, unemployment, and inequality with the context of a growing economy. This implies that ordinarily, growth is supposed to lead to development. Some experts have agreed that economic development is the aftermath of sustained growth over time. So, if we have an increase in the GDP, as we have witnessed here, it will not be equated with development not until we have a reduction in poverty, unemployment, inequality, and dependency. It is important to note that development is assumed to reduce every form of poverty in a country.
More so, economic growth is an increase in real national income / national output but economic development, on the other hand, involves improvement in the quality of life and living standards, e.g. measures of literacy, life expectancy and, health care. It is worthy of note that development is human-centered socio-economic essentials. This is where the measure of the HDI comes in. What does it measure?
HDI means human development index, it is a composite measure of human development on a scale of 0 to 1, taking into account the income, education, and life expectancy in a country. Furthermore, development is related to gender equity. For example, if a growth process discriminates against women, it has given room for resource wastes. This will have a blowback effect on the economy.
Some experts have concluded that a developed economy must be able to provide basic needs for the citizens like shelter, food, basic health facilities, basic education, etc. The basis here is that government should be able to provide these basic things.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that most African countries have only experienced economic growth but are still very far from economic development. It is also evident that the only way development can be achieved, is when we have sustained growth that is not truncated by any extraneous variables like political tension, banditry, terrorism, policy shift by another government, etc. Therefore, when we talk about real economic development, then we shall turn to eight Millennium development goals or the revised seventeen Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. If a country can achieve the majority of these goals, then development will be evident.
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