Migration and Development: State and Non-State Actors in Co-development: A study of Ghana's approach to managing international migration

Date published




Recent migration research emphasizes the development potential of migration in both sending and receiving countries. These studies provide compelling evidence of the positive effect migration can have on poverty reduction, gender equality, health, education and the environment. However, other studies highlight the negative impact migration can have on sending countries, including issues associated with the ‘brain drain’.

It is also widely accepted that the potential of migration to promote development depends on institutional arrangements and frameworks that have been put in place by states, and how such arrangements promote the active engagement of migrants.

Examining the role various actors play in the migration-development process will bring more clarity on how state and non-state actors can maximize the gains of migration while mitigating its risks, in both sending and receiving countries.

This publication focuses on various initiatives undertaken by the Government of Ghana and non-state actors to promote diaspora engagement in Ghana’s development process. Initiatives designed to maximize the benefits of migration while mitigating its negative effects is a central theme. The study analyzes both state and non-state led initiatives operating in Ghana, as well as those conducted in cooperation with diaspora groups, destination country governments and development organizations.

The book presents the following key ideas:

Migration can have a positive impact on development if it is well managed by various actors, including governments, NGOs and diaspora communities. The study recognized that migration is not necessarily resultant of development or underdevelopment, but can be influenced by the micro and macro levels of socioeconomic factors such as social networks, government policies and initiatives, and local economic conditions. These in turn have feedback impacts on both origin and host countries as well as the migrants themselves. There is a risk of assessing the role of various actors in development without looking critically into their structural limitations, which can result in varied outcomes on development. Therefore, every analysis of migration and development must examine the structural issues (including social networks between migrants and communities, government policies and initiatives, and local economic conditions) associated with different actors and to assess the effectiveness of their role in the context of migration, development and co-development.

A country of origin’s diaspora can serve as a catalyst for development. However, the development impact generated depends on structural issues and the active involvement of various actors in migration. Without that, the development potential of diaspora may be limited. A critical review of the literature also supports this argument. For example, given the multifaceted and complex nature of migration in a globalized world, there is a need for various actors and non-state actors to use their structural capabilities to effectively manage migration, promote sustainable re-migration, and facilitate the effective use of migrants’ skills and remittances.

Whether a migrant will return home through circular migration, contribute to knowledge or remit back home will depend on various factors including: political and economic conditions in the country of origin, the extent to which a migrant has successfully acquired wealth and social capital in the country of destination, the level of immigrant reception in the destination country, and the migrant’s own country of origin.

The study also highlights the gap in knowledge on whether collective remittances to Ghana by diaspora communities have improved the level of community development. There is therefore a need to further research the relationship between collective remittances and development. The role of women in transnational or diaspora communities and their engagement activities with the country of origin is also an issue requiring further research, particularly given the increasing “feminization” of migration.

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Related Area

Related countries


Thematic area

  • Migration and national development plans

Document link

Document language


Document type

Number of pages

64 pages

Focus area

Building upon the capacities of highly skilled migrants as well as migrants professional/ entrepreneur associations for development
Reinforcing the capacities of migrant communities for development
Leveraging the human and social development impact of remittances

Place / Publisher

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing (July 2, 2012)

Publisher / Organisation

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing (July 2, 2012)