Increasing inequality in the Sahel and West Africa
In West Africa, Sahel and Mano River countries have lower income inequality than their coastal neighbours, indicating growing social and economic disparities between emerging economies (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria) and less rapidly transforming rural economies. Moreover, many West African countries are faced with a north-south divide. Ghana’s north is much less developed than its rapidly urbanising coastal areas. In Nigeria, the socio-economic level of the conflict-affected northeastern states can hardly be compared with the wealth of the urban megacities in the south, home to many of the continent’s billionaires. Nigeria’s average national per capita income does not reflect these tremendous intra-country disparities. Inequality is a multifaceted issue by nature, so measuring it is not an easy task. It is often measured as a ratio of the incomes of the top quintile to the bottom quintile or via the Gini index to better reflect the wealth distribution within a country. Beyond income inequality, inequalities are strongly visible between urban and rural areas where access to basic services remains a key problem. Within cities, there are also major gaps between the rich and poor when it comes to access to education, water and sanitation, health services, etc.
Inequality is generally higher in urban agglomerations than in rural settings. Large gender disparities persist throughout West Africa.