09 July 2019

New publication: Access along Ghana’s charcoal commodity chain

The new publication 'Access along Ghana’s charcoal commodity chain' documents the legal and illegal infrastructure that allows state actors and chiefs to take fees and to informally tax the charcoal market in Ghana.

The article is written by Associate Professor Christian Pilegaard Hansen University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource EconomicsSenior Lecturer Emmanuel Acheampong, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Doctoral Student Frank Kwaku Agyei (currently guest at UCPH), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. 

The following text is a shortened version of the article 'Access along Ghana’s charcoal commodity chain' published in the international journal Society & Natural Resources. Read the full version of the article here.

Charcoal production and exchange is lucrative across sub-Saharan Africa. But who profits along the charcoal commodity chains? By mapping access along the charcoal chain in Ghana, based on interviews with 650 actors, this article traces out the social and political-economic relations by which charcoal benefits are distributed. It illuminates how access and the mechanisms used by various groups of actors to maintain and control access are dynamic in time and space.

The article shows how significant profits are derived by those in control of the market while those in control of the resource (the trees) and the production process generate much lower levels of profits. The article suggests force, moral economy, social movement, and innovation as additional access mechanisms to those outlined by Ribot and Peluso in their Theory of Access. Improving equity along charcoal commodity chains requires more attention to access mechanisms operating on charcoal markets, especially access to capital, information and buyers.

(...)

Conclusions

This study has investigated how different actors gain, maintain, and control access to opportunities along Ghana’s charcoal commodity chain. We employed access mapping following the charcoal chain from Kintampo Forest District to the three largest urban centers in Ghana. The analysis suggests huge inequality in the distribution of profit in the charcoal market. Producers have direct control over forest resources but reap only a small portion of income in the market. Merchants and transporters reap higher income than the other actors, through controlling the market via access to capital and labor, information, vehicles, and price control.

The article documents the legal and illegal infrastructure that allows state actors and chiefs to take fees and to informally tax this market. In expanding the Theory of Access (Ribot and Peluso 2003) the article suggests force, moral economy, social movement, and innovation as additional structural and relational access mechanisms (...)

Read the full version of the article here.

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