Located between the equator and the deserted Sahel region, Ghana has more than enough reasons to concern itself with the environmental consequences of climate change. However, economic issues are of concern as well. While gold and crude oil continue to compose half of the country’s exports, agricultural production is one of the most sensitive sectors to the effects of global warming. Including cocoa beans, palm oil, coconuts, and Brazil nuts, Ghana’s agricultural sector accounts for around 30% of the country’s outgoing products and employs the majority of the population. Faced with this global challenge, Ghanaian authorities are working to find a solution and to also take advantage of the economic opportunities that surround a more eco-friendly industry.
After the launch of Ghana’s National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, in 2013, the Ghanaian authorities have been partnering with international agencies to help implement the environmentally protective plan. It was within that context that the World Bank helped launching the Ghana Climate Innovation Center (GCIC) in Accra in 2016, with a USD17.2-million grant aimed at helping Ghanaian companies working with clean technologies to scale and develop. The final aim is to help over 300,000 locals become more resilient to changes in their environment over the next decade.
In late October 2017, GCIC announced a partnership with the World Bank Group and UK-based entrepreneurship mentoring company Mowgli Mentoring to start its first program in West Africa, offering six-month structured mentoring programs for climate innovators. The program will give Ghanaian eco-entrepreneurs the tools to overcome personal, technical, and business challenges to allow their companies to develop.
The final goal is to empower locals to kickstart successful businesses within the green economy, like Safi Sana, a Ghanaian venture that is building public toilets in slums and making use of the waste to produce clean energy, addressing both issues of sanitation and energy availability in one go. The company is developing a facility that will allow their services to reach 125,000 people without sanitation, and provide clean energy to 7,500, as well as producing 2,500kg of organic fertilizer per day. Safi Sana’s exploits were recognized in November 2017 when it was nominated for the 2017 edition of the Netherlands-Africa Business Council Doing Business in Africa award.
Another interesting example of how local companies are quickly integrating new environmentally sound strategies is Mohinani Group, a packaging company that has been supporting local communities protecting the environment while exploring solar power solutions to reduce its own power costs. Speaking to TBY, CEO Ashok Mohinani said, “The projects we undertake keep transforming whether in education, protecting the environment, or other fields. At the moment our focus is on environmental issues where we can educate and help clean up, which is our focus for the short to medium term. We just need to keep strengthening those projects and keep moving in those directions.”
Another accelerating development in the Ghanaian green economy is the considerable emergence of eco-tourism in the country’s national parks. The most recent development, in November 2017, was the opening of a children’s park at the Kakum National Park, by the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust, to expand on the park’s attractiveness as a tourism spot for visitors from the local communities and foreign regions. Almost at the same time, Green Coast Group and Drink Safe Water advocacy group announced the commissioning of an Ecotourism Park in Yilo Krobo municipality with the planting of a dwarf coconut seedling, the first of 500 to be planted in the park’s area in the near future. Just two weeks prior, the management of the Crown Forest Limited commissioned the Crown Forest project, a new eco-tourism development combining a safari eco-park, adventure, and conference tourism, located over 820 acres at Gomoa Nsuaem, in what will be the first safari eco-park in West Africa. These developments add on to previous successes like Kakum National Park, Mole National Park, and Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, and prove the rapid acceleration of the eco-tourism sector.
All this takes place as the Ghana Standards Authority is developing a new National Building Code, reportedly with the international Green Construction Code as a benchmark, thereby putting pressure on new real estate developments in the country to obey by sustainability procedures. The hosting of an international green financing conference in Accra, in November 2017, further exemplifies the intense growth of the green economy sector in Ghana over the last year.