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REPORT GHANA DAY 2007 - Almere, 10 October 2007

By Lieke van der Zouwen
REPORT GHANA DAY 2007 - Almere, 10 October 2007

Plenary session:
The Chairman of the day, Mr Isaac Acheampong, welcomed all honoured guests and asked Pastor Chris Boateng from the Pentecostal Church in Almere to say an opening prayer. The first part of the day was plenary and consisted of a number of speeches.

Mrs. Annemarie Jorritsma, Hon. Mayor of Almere
Mrs Jorritsma welcomed all guests and participants to the city of Almere. She emphasized the special relationship between Almere and Ghana. Almere and Kumasi have been twin cities for more then ten years, and are working in close harmony to make development work. On a municipal level the two cities work together on waste management, urban planning and architecture, the promotion of democracy, women empowerment and cultural exchanges. To tackle these issues, the City of Almere collaborates with the Almere-based foundation SamenWerk (Work Together) and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, VNG. Mrs. Jorritsma then told about her experiences in Ghana which were very positive. She saw a great spirit of commerce and creativity amongst the Ghanaians. Finally, Mrs. Jorritsma expressed her hope that the Ghana Day would contribute to the intense relationships between all partners in development cooperation in Ghana.

H.E. Lidi Remmelzwaal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana
Mrs. Lidi Remmelzwaal emphasized the role of the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana as a facilitator in enhancing partnerships in cooperation between Netherlands and Ghana. Their support for the Ghana Day is an example of this. However, the success of the Ghana Day depends on how the participants make use of this platform for exchanging information, establishing links with other initiatives and partners, and in looking for opportunities for better coordination and complementarities in development activities in Ghana.

Ghana is an important partner country of the Netherlands. In addition to budget support the Netherlands mainly support the health, environment and water sector. Poverty in Ghana is still wide-spread, but good progress is made in terms of economic development, good governance and poverty reduction. Development cooperation takes place at different levels and between different partners like governments, local authorities, NGO's and small scale initiatives. The challenge for all of us is to become more efficient, enhance complementarity and thus the effectiveness of our development cooperation efforts. Mrs. Remmelzaal stressed that coordination and harmonisation of all these activities needs to be improved to reduce the transaction cost both for the Ghanaian Government and the development partners. The Ghana Day provides a good opportunity for exploring possibilities for more complementarity and better coordination in the many initiatives between the Netherlands and Ghana.

Mr. James F. Tettey, Minister-Counselor of the Republic of Ghana to the Netherlands
Mr. James Tettey underlined the special and long lasting bond between Ghana and the Netherlands. This abiding and flourishing relationship has always been anchored in the determination of the peoples of the two countries to stick close together. Contacts between the two countries were essentially driven by the spirit of adventure and profit and saw the development of all forms of trade, including even trade in human beings, but they have metamorphosed into a genuine and mutual beneficial relation underpinned by many forms of development relations. As an expression of this unique relationship, Ghana and The Netherlands have established twin-sister relations between some of their cities and towns. The establishment of twinning relations between these cities and towns has not only fostered understanding between the peoples but has greatly impacted development in these towns and cities.

Because of the long duration of the relationship there are no areas where officials are not currently engaged in working to promote this bond. Mr. Tettey stated that therefore it is now time to re-direct our attention to areas beyond official bilateral cooperation, such as private initiatives, where the relationship can be brought to new and higher dimensions. The doors of the Embassy of Ghana are always open as a point for facilitating and coordinating any initiatives by the peoples of the two countries.

After the plenary session there were two rounds of workshops. A short impression of the workshops comprising both morning and afternoon sessions is summarized below.

Workshop 1: Getting the Best in Business & Financing from Dutch and Ghanaian Cooperation
Speakers/ panel: Kim Kiszelnik (IntEnt), Nii Nmai Dsane (GHANECC), Marjolein Vink (EVD), John Koekkoek (Teeuwissen Holdings BV), Dua Fordjour (Dua Biofuel Projects), Samuel Aryee (STAND/ Recogin)

Moderator: Veronica van de Kamp (St Gam)
John Koekkoek from Teeuwissen Holdings BV introduced the workshop by sharing his experiences as entrepreneur in Ghana. He told that an entrepreneur in Ghana needs to be optimistic, flexible, and patient and to work together with a strong and reliable partner in order to succeed. The group was split into two subgroups in which financing and partnerships were discussed. Kim Kiszelnik from IntEnt introduced the financing part. There are several possibilities for receiving support, but still entrepreneurs don't start a business in Ghana due to a lack of financing. There are quite some resources available, but you need to invest some time and effort before you can receive any. IntEnt is not a financial organisation, they support migrants who want to set up a business in their country of origin through doubling (future) savings with a guarantee. Local banks provide the business loan to the migrant entrepreneur.

Nii Nmai Dsane from Ghanecc explained that it used to be difficult to find a partner in Ghana because there was no culture of partnership. Thanks to several institutions people are more open to partnerhips now. However, it can still be quite difficult to find suitable and reliable partners in Ghana, but with some time and effort you will succeed. Dutch entrepreneurs can obtain information by contacting Ghanaian people in the Netherlands and contact local governments. You need to do a good reference check and to be willing to take some risks. Concluding, if you want to start a successful and profitable business in Ghana you need to be in Ghana or find a reliable partner, have time and be patient.

Workshop 2: Education, Training and Employment: crossroads for Ghanaian prosperity
Moderators: Toni Kofi (STAND), Gert Muller (IESA Foundation/ Change4Africa), Tirza Kouwenberg (HBO-raad), Tom Visser (CINOP)

The Ghanaian government spends a large part of its budget on formal education (university, polytechnics and vocational training). Training and apprenticeship hardly receive funding from the government. In spite of the large sums spend on formal education, the government is not able to achieve the goal of even partial employment. 70% of the job market is created by apprenticeship. For Ghana's many skilled, but academic trained, students, it is difficult to find a job. In this workshop the group was split in four subgroups in which participants discussed how to find a viable solution for this issue.

For a better fit between education and employment, more focus on practical training is necessary. To achieve this there should be more cooperation between the education sector and industry and business. In addition to knowledge and skills, a change in attitude towards certain jobs and people working in those areas is needed (long-term thinking). Images of some professions are looked down upon by the academic trained people and yet they have majority of the job market in their hands and help the economy of Ghana better. Besides, there should be a change in mentality of educational policy makers and the institutions who train future employees (awareness of the fact that manual work is not inferior to academic trained labour). This could be taught at school. To achieve this you need role-models. A change in the way how people think about money is also necessary. Instead of looking for funds and asking for money, they should focus more on creating money. The challenge for this group is how both Dutch and Ghanaian organizations can find viable ways and means to have a common vision and how to reach those visions working together – each part bringing its experiences to bear on this cooperation.

Workshop 3: Health Promotion in Ghana
Speakers: K.A. Adanse-Pipim (AFAPAC), Cees Hageraats (Kpare), Barima Asamoah Kofi IV (IMTRAD)
Health and poverty are interrelated. K.A. Adanse-Pipim from AFAPAC introduced the Ghana Health Policy, also known as the 5 year programme of work (5YPoW). This policy emphasizes “regenerative” and preventive health as a core strategy for improving health and reducing poverty. This workshop was based on the statement: “Promotion of good community health and hygiene is a primary determinant of healthcare in Ghana”. Barima Asamoah Kofi IV from IMTRAD explained the activities of his organisation that aims at providing general health- and psychological education and promoting innovative thinking amongst the villagers. Cees Hageraats from Kpare described the situation in the North-Western part of Ghana and how Kpare tries to improve this situation by income generation projects and cutting down of expenses through health programmes. Prevention of illnesses through sanitation, nutrition and malaria prevention is very important for poverty reduction.

In the discussion the environmental problems in Ghana were addressed. These problems are amongst others plastic disposal, people living to close together, children playing with garbage, cattle on the street and in houses, illegal dump, washing in unclean water, bad smells, overloaded and a lack of waste containers. In solving these problems there should be attention for the cultural context and traditional ways of health care. Public education (for instance on recycling) is important as well. This could be done through education in public places and educating children (who pass it to their parents). The first responsible people in solving the health problems are the Ghanaians in Ghana themselves. The role of NGO's should be reduced, but that is only possible if the local people feel responsible for the solution. Other stakeholders in solving the problems are the Ministry of Health and church/ mosque boards.

Fourteen Ghanaian migrant and Dutch organisations agreed to meet again to discuss these issues and make plans to help to address the situation.

Workshop 4: Migration and Development
Speakers: Valentina Mazzucato(UvA), Vincent Gambrah (Afro Euro Foundation), George Duncan (Sankofa)

Moderator: Leila Rispens-Noel (Oxfam Novib)
The presentation of Valentina Mazzucato was on remittances that are sent to Ghana by the Ghanaian Diaspora. The amount of remittances sent by the Ghanaian Diaspora is very large (estimate of 4 USD billion in 2004). Remittances are mostly spent on business, housing and help, which indicates that remittances can have a development effect. However, there are also some hurdles to these positive implications of remittances. These are the fear for brain drain (because educated people move abroad); the extra costs of paperwork (fees that have to be paid for lawyers, marrying etc); the relatively low success rates of migrant funded development projects (due to a lack of time, experience and infrastructure); and the crooked geographic and social distribution of migrant funding (remittances usually go to the richer and urban areas in Ghana). Vincent Gambrah from the Afro Euro Foundation focussed on brain gain and capital accumulation. He stated that the Ghanaian Diaspora should be aware of the necessity of knowledge transfer as a key element of development. They should aim at creating human, financial and social capital. People have to be trained to fulfil this task.
In the discussion the importance of local contacts was emphasized as an important step to success in Ghana. People should contact traditional and religious leaders as they have a lot of impact in Ghanaian society. However, for western organisations it is more difficult to contact these people. This could be made easier trough contacts with the Ghanaian community in the Netherlands. If you want to succeed with your project in Ghana, you need to have a large network.

Workshop 5: The Millennium Development Goals in Ghana
Moderator: Martin van der Kuil (Cordaid)
Speakers: H.E. Lidi Remmelzwaal (Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana), Henk Bosch (ICCO)
In 2000 the UN Millennium Assembly agreed on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG's), which are to be achieved in 2015. The achievement of the MDG's is an important objective in Development Cooperation, both for the Netherlands government and for many NGO's.

The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Lidi Remmelzwaal, gave an introduction on the targets for Ghana and where the country stands now. The prospects for the first target, eradicating extreme poverty, are good. Poverty levels dropped from 39,5% in 1998/1999 to 28,5% in 2005/2006 and the target is likely to be reached in 2008/2009. There is improvement in school enrolment rates, but at this pace the target will not be reached in 2015. Little progress has been made in the field of health care and water/ sanitation; these targets are far out of reach. In order to reach all the MDGs, higher economic growth rates, continued investments in social sectors, increased spending on infrastructure, continued policy reforms and measures to increase productivity in agriculture are needed. The Netherlands Embassy mainly supports the health, environment and water sectors. Henk Bosch from ICCO explained how ICCO is contributing to reaching the MDG's. Most of ICCO's projects are focussed on poverty reduction (agricultural and micro credit programmes) and education, but they also have projects on gender equality, HIV/AIDS and ecological projects.

The discussion mainly focussed on the activities of the Netherlands Embassy. One of the questions was about the role of the embassy in the relation between NGO's and business. The embassy focuses on bilateral development cooperation, so it can only have a facilitating role in working with NGO's and business. An overview of Dutch NGO's and companies in Ghana can be found at the website:,ghana/dutch_organisations_active_in_ghana.html.

Workshop 6: Private Initiatives
Speaker: Lau Schulpen (CIDIN)
Panel: Alfred Atta (Ghanafuo Kroye Kuo Twente), Gerhard Schuil (Impulsis)
Private initiatives (PIs) are regarded as one of the most direct ways of linking Ghana and the Netherlands. At the same time, PIs are also questioned and are part of the recent debates about development cooperation. Four propositions were discussed. The first was on PI's as an expression of active public support for development cooperation. PI's are essential in strengthening and deepening public support for development cooperation. Public support from receiving villages is also important for the success of PI's. The second proposition was on the cooperation between PI's and more traditional NGO's. More cooperation could lead to greater efficiency because they can use each other know how. On the other hand the different kind of organizations have their own advantages and stronger cooperation could lead to loss of identity. Moreover, some PI's fear that cooperation will lead to cooptation by the traditional NGO's. The third element discussed was on the effectiveness of PI's as a criterion for subsidy (as in the case of more traditional NGO's). The last proposition concerned the difference between PI's that are run by Ghanaian Diaspora and PI's that are run by native Dutch. Ghanaian Diaspora organizations probably have more knowledge of the situation in Ghana whereas PI's run by Dutch might have more insight in the situation in the Netherlands (and in the way how to find subsidies). However, there is not always a difference between Dutch and Ghanaian organisations, they should be judged equally.

Networking & Speeddating:
During the second time of the day there was time for networking. At the same time participants had the opportunity to ask questions to several persons and organisations during the speeddating sessions. Visitors could approach the ambassador, business experts and NGO's with questions and comments regarding possibilities for subsidy, setting up development projects and business activities.

Closing session:
At the end of the day, the chairman of the day, Isaac Acheampong, summarized the outcomes of the workshop. He then thanked everybody for their presence and effort on this memorable day and invited all to join him for a drink. The day was closed with a prayer from Alhaji Abey Sulemana (Ghana Muslim Community).

Bart de Bruijn and Lieke van der Zouwen
Sub-Saharan Africa Department
For the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana