Book Chapter
Subnational governance in Ghana

A comparative assessment of data and performance

In this chapter, we conceptualise an ideal framework that captures three reinforcing levers for measuring local government performance in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Ghana, namely policy pronouncement, political processes and internal operations, and policy implementation.

Given data limitations we employ a ‘next best’ approach to apply this framework and measure local government performance by combining a weighted ‘quality of reporting’ measure with selected available measures on political processes and internal operations, and policy implementation, so as to construct a composite index for local government performance (LGI).

We also look at the relationship between our performance indices and other indices of local government performance in Ghana, as well as poverty headcounts. We find that, on average, urban districts perform better than their rural counterparts and also districts located in the southern half of Ghana perform better.

Our constructed composite index is positively correlated with indices from Ghana’s district league tables. It has a negative relationship with poverty headcount in districts, indicating that districts with lower poverty incidence are more effective and responsive to their citizens.

The findings provide a snapshot of institutional performance across Ghana’s districts, and offer a more comprehensive basis for considering variations in subnational institutional performance, including the effects of decentralisation than previous studies of Ghana – or indeed African countries more broadly.