Navigating through an external agenda and internal preferences: Ghana’s national migration policy

Segadlo, Nadine
Discussion Paper (8/2021)

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-96021-145-7
Price: 6 €

In the context of international migration from African countries to Europe, the EU widely applies the strategy of curbing irregular migration. EU efforts focus on combating the root causes of migration and flight as well as achieving African compliance on return and re-admission. This approach ignores the interests of the countries of origin. It also undermines what countries of origin do to deal with migration in their own states. In West Africa, the regional organisation ECOWAS strongly promotes migration management, and introduced the 2008 ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration with guidelines for migration governance in the region. Ghana, as one of the first ECOWAS member states, adopted a National Migration Policy (NMP) in 2016. The country has a long history of migration, has experienced different migration trends and is affected by various streams of migration. As little is known about the country’s policy responses to migration, this study investigates migration policy-making in Ghana. It specifically examines the case of the NMP for Ghana and aims at uncovering stakeholder involvement in the policy-making process as well as its determinants. Guided by an analytical framework derived from theoretical considerations of the advocacy coalition framework, the interconnection of institutions, actors and ideas and an extensive literature review, the study uses a qualitative approach. The results are based on 14 weeks of field research in Ghana in which 40 experts were interviewed. Together with an analysis of a plethora of secondary data the study finds that when deciding to get involved in the policy-making process for the NMP for Ghana, stakeholders tend to be led by their interests and the resources they possess, as these are what their power is based on. The research further reveals that the NMP does not primarily address a perceived problem related to migration within Ghana, that is to say the internal migration flows from deprived to less deprived areas. Rather it largely pursues the interests of the EU, who is the main financer of the policy, to foster migration control. The results of the study therefore suggest that in the policy formulation process for Ghana’s NMP, internal interests were outweighed by the external agenda of the EU.

Further experts

Christ, Simone

Social Anthropology 

Ekoh, Susan S.

Environmental Research 

Flaig, Merlin

Social Science 

Jaji, Rose


Kuhnt, Jana

Development Economist 

Martin-Shields, Charles

Political Science