The Role of Door-to-Door Operators in Ghanaian International Migration

This project seeks to address a critical gap in knowledge about the operations of a major transnational business which has a direct bearing on the livelihood strategies adopted by Ghanaian migrants in their attempt to participate in socio-economic development in their country of origin.  ‘Door -to-door’ operators are businesses that collect and ship goods from specific addresses in the UK to specific addresses in Ghana. They constitute a vital link between Ghanaian migrants and migrant households in Ghana, businesses, voluntary sector agencies and even government institutions. In spite of the important role of these operators as key intermediaries in the migration industry, very little is known about the nature of this transnational business model, the extent to which it facilitates migration processes and the implications of their operations on the development prospects of Ghana. Academic and policy researches tend to portray intermediaries in the migration process as illegitimate, illegal or criminal entities whose preoccupation is the exploitation of the migrant. Within this conceptualisation, intermediaries in the migration industry are often examined within the context of human trafficking or smuggling and child labour discourses. This lopsided view constrains critical analysis of the potential positive facilitation role of these actors. The main goal of the study is to examine the role of door -to-door operators in broadening the range of actors in the Ghanaian migration industry towards national development.

Therefore, the overall hypothesis of the study is that if the operations of ‘door-to-door’ operators are formalised, they constitute the best model for transferring in -kind remittances to Ghana. This hypothesis will be examined by addressing the following specific aims: Specific aim

  1. To understand the nature of the door -to-door business model
  2. To examine how operations of door -to-door operators could be formalised
  3. To examine the effects of their operations on the Ghanaian economy.

These aims will be achieved through the adoption of mainly qualitative methods. This study is employing qualitative methods such as in -depth interviews, observations and focus group discussions in order to gain a deeper understanding of the rationale behind adopted strategies and implications of such practices on Ghana. Successful completion of this study will greatly enhance the formalisation of the role of ‘door-to-door’ operators in order to enable Ghana benefit from their operations.  The study aims at making policy recommendations on how these businesses could be managed so as to contribute to the development agenda of the country, the welfare of Ghanaian migrants and their families in Ghana. This project is funded through an investigator-led research grant from the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana. Members of the Research Team include: Dr. Leander Kandilige (Principal Investigator), Dr. Joseph K. Teye (Co-PI), Dr Mary Boatemaa Setrana (Co-PI) and Geraldine Adiku (Collaborator, University of Oxford).


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