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Sustainable Economic Development to Secure Future Job Prospects


Un- and underemployment are widespread in Ghana. Jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are few and far between, meaning that 85 per cent of workers are employed in the informal sector. Although big things are expected from start-ups and entrepreneurs, they receive little or no support from the academic and scientific community, economic development initiatives or big corporations, and lack financing opportunities. In northern Ghana in particular, the perceived lack of prospects increases the pressure to migrate, and many young Ghanaians head off to Accra in search of work. Once there, they often end up at the Old Fadama dumping ground, where they earn a living collecting and recycling (e-)waste, despite the risks this poses to the environment and their own health.

Against this background, the project envisages various measures to aid economic development and promote employment in Ghana’s formal and informal sectors: SMEs from northern Ghana will be supported in improving their marketing, and the advisory skills of start-up ecosystems from Tamale and Kumasi will be enhanced. Members of the informal sector on Accra’s Old Fadama dumping ground will be enabled to increase their income-generating opportunities through self-employment. At the same time, the launch of a system to extend manufacturer responsibility for plastic packaging will be facilitated in order to improve job opportunities in the informal sector.


The project will support sustainable economic development in Ghana and help to improve job opportunities in both the formal and informal sectors. It will therefore help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.


Strengthening start-up ecosystems in Kumasi and Tamale
Actors from the start-up scene in Germany’s Ruhr region will provide methodological and technical advice to improve the advisory skills of start-up hubs in Kumasi and Tamale. This will enhance the training and coaching available to start-ups from the two cities. A series of virtual conferences, workshops and webinars is also planned to further encourage dialogue between the start-up scenes in Ghana and the Ruhr region. This measure is based on a previous NRW project that initiated an exchange of experiences between start-up ecosystems from Kumasi and the Ruhr.

Studying internal migration
The Old Fadama dumping ground attracts large numbers of migrants from the north of the country. A study is therefore being conducted to better understand the push and pull factors shaping internal migration from northern Ghana to Accra. The study should also indicate what could be made available in order to reduce economically motivated internal migration.

Financing mechanism for small-scale investments by start-ups
A public-private financing mechanism is to be developed in order to help start-ups facing financing bottlenecks. It will be trialled by hubs in Kumasi and Tamale and accompanied by coaching for start-ups. Start-ups from the two cities will be supported with micro-investments from the funding pot so that they can progress their promising business ideas. Funding for the pot will be split 50/50 between established Ghanaian companies and project funds.

Innovation budget for devising joint business ideas
The project envisages an innovation budget to support start-up teams from Ghana and NRW/Germany in jointly developing and trialling innovative business models.

Internet portal for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)
A readily accessible service for giving MSMEs an internet presence is to be developed in order to make it easier for them to enter the market. This is designed to increase companies’ visibility, especially in northern Ghana. The platform is intended to form the basis for a start-up business model, to be supported by initial financing.

Developing a strategy for extending manufacturer responsibility
Through advice and a moderated dialogue with the private sector, the Ghanaian Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation will be supported in developing a strategy for introducing extended manufacturer responsibility. This will help to ensure the sustainable management of plastic waste in Ghana and open up better job prospects for members of the informal sector.

Training for alternative income-generating opportunities
Technical training to provide alternative income-generating opportunities as well as basic courses in areas such as such as literacy and English are planned for up to 70 people. This will give members of the informal sector at the Old Fadama dumping ground new prospects for the future. Those who complete the training will also receive starter packs to help them on the way to self-employment.

Strengthening the hospital on the dumping ground
Measures to improve the hospital on the Old Fadama dumping ground will help eliminate existing psychological barriers and information deficits amongst members of the informal sector. The deployment of a Dagbani-speaking social worker will boost contact with the people who work on the dumping ground and live nearby, in order to raise their awareness of what treatment is available at the hospital and under what conditions. A large-scale signage system is also planned. A crisis budget has been factored in to enable a flexible response to the hospital’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Development education work
As a supporting measure, a multimedia format is being developed to illustrate the challenges facing Ghana and the contributions made by its partnership with NRW. This will be used in public information and outreach work in NRW.

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Brief project description

Title: Promoting Sustainable Economic Development to Secure Future Job Prospects in Ghana
Term: May 2020 – June 2022
Region: Ghana
Sector: Sustainable economic development, circular economy

Supported by: State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia

Partners and actors

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