Chinese people in Ghana

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Chinese people in Ghana
Ghanaian Chinese-family.jpg
Total population
Various speculative estimates, 7,000[1][2][3][4]
Regions with significant populations
Accra,[5] Kumasi, Tema, Sekondi-Takoradi
Chinese people in Ghana
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese加納華人
Simplified Chinese加纳华人
Akan[a] name
China Gaana

Migration of Chinese people in Ghana dates back to the 1940s.[1] Originally, most came from Hong Kong; migration from mainland China began only in the 1980s. The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International studies cites the total number of Chinese workers in Africa in 2018 as 201,057 as per the National Bureau of Statistics of China which is corroborated by other sources such as The Almanac Of China's Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, and The China Annual Bulletin Of Statistics Of Contracted Projects. This figure indicates a steady decline from the previous years 2015-2017 but however, ostensibly does not account for informal migrants such as traders and shopkeepers.

Migration history[edit]

The earliest ethnic Chinese migrants to Ghana were of Hong Kong origin. They began arriving in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when both territories were still part of the British Empire.[1] These sojourners stayed in Ghana for periods ranging from a few years to several decades, but they never came to consider Ghana their home.[6] The migrants consisted largely of men who came to Ghana alone and worked as employees in Chinese-owned factories, while their families remained behind in Hong Kong. Originally, they were concentrated in western Ghana, but after Ghana achieved independence, the Kwame Nkrumah government began implementing plans to promote development in the eastern part of the country, and as a result, they began moving towards Accra and Tema.[5]

Aside from individual migrants, there was also an official contingent from the People's Republic of China (PRC) for a brief period in the 1960s. The PRC provided a variety of military assistance to Ghana in the 1960s, including a loan for an arms factory in 1962 (which was never constructed) and the dispatch of military advisors in 1964. After the 1966 coup which overthrew Nkrumah's government, Ghana expelled 430 PRC nationals, including three intelligence officers and thirteen guerrilla warfare specialists.[7]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, some of the Hong Kong migrants began to bring their wives and children over to Ghana.[5] Migrants from Shanghai also began to arrive round this time.[2] Due to further political unrest in the 1970s and 1980s, including two coups by Jerry Rawlings, many of the Chinese migrants returned to Hong Kong. However, with the economic reform and opening up in the PRC, migrants from mainland China began arriving just as the Hong Kong migrants were flowing out. Migration from mainland China intensified in the 1990s; some came as employees, but most were independent traders running import-export businesses or restaurants.[5] The sources of migration have also expanded; whereas earlier migrants came mostly from Hong Kong or Shanghai, later Chinese migrants have arrived from Guangdong and Henan as well as the Republic of China on Taiwan.[2]

Business and employment[edit]

The earliest Hong Kong migrants were employed in a variety of industries in Ghana, including a failed tobacco-growing venture, a factory in Takoradi producing cooking implements, and imitation wax print clothing.[1] The owners of these ventures rarely visited Ghana.[5] In the 1990s and 2000s, large Chinese companies became active in Ghana's construction sector, while individual Chinese traders gained a large amount of influence in retailing of textiles, electrical appliances, and daily-use goods.[8] Under the Ghana Investment Promotion Act of 1994, any foreigner can open a retail business with an investment of US$300,000, as long as it employs 10 local citizens, subject to maintenance of a certain minimum volume of trade.[9][10] More recently, other Chinese are engaged in small-scale gold mining, as well as providing funding and heavy equipment to other miners.[10]

Integration and community[edit]

The Chinese population in Ghana itself are largely transitory, and there is some resistance among them to the idea that they belong to a "community". Most of the migrants came with the intention of seeing the world and making money, rather than settling down in Ghana.[6] In order to obtain Ghanaian nationality, one must be married to a citizen of Ghana or be able to speak and understand one of the indigenous languages of Ghana.[11] The Chinese who have lived in Ghana for most of their lives have acquired Ghanaian citizenship, which is granted without any discrimination.[citation needed]

Local traders have protested against the influx of Chinese traders selling imported goods, and accuse them of breaking investment laws.[9] In late 2007, local traders organised protests in Accra which accused the Chinese of unfair competition and trading in fields for which they were not qualified.[8] In turn, Chinese migrants complain of arbitrary treatment by Ghana's police. On one day in February 2009, officers of the Immigration Department arrested over 100 Chinese people in a single day, due to Chinese engagement in illegal gold mining; in response, forty-one Chinese businesspeople signed an open letter of protest to the Immigration Department. They attributed the sudden crackdown to the government's desire to protect local merchants in the face of the worsening economy.[12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Ho 2008a, p. 9
  2. ^ a b c Aosa, Liuying (August 2006), "加纳商界的上海人朱亦念/Zhu Yinian, a Shanghai person in Ghana's world of commerce", Xinhua Monthly Tianxia, retrieved 1 April 2009
  3. ^ "Africa-China Relationship: Gains So Far",, 17 November 2009, retrieved 22 June 2012
  4. ^ Kohnert 2010, p. 10
  5. ^ a b c d e Ho 2008a, p. 10
  6. ^ a b Ho 2008b, p. 46
  7. ^ Berry 1994, Ch. 5
  8. ^ a b Ameyaw, Debra (19 April 2008), "China and India conquering Ghana market", Voices of Africa, archived from the original on 1 September 2011, retrieved 6 April 2009
  9. ^ a b Kokutse, Francis (31 July 2008), "Ghana: 'You Have To Speak Up When Competition Destroys You'", Inter Press Service, archived from the original on 21 January 2009, retrieved 6 April 2009
  10. ^ a b Kohnert 2010, p. 11
  11. ^ UNHCR 2001
  12. ^ Yan, Shanjun; Zhang, Yaoqing (2 April 2009), "金融危机来袭非洲华商近况堪忧", Sina News, retrieved 6 April 2009



  1. ^ In order to gain Ghanaian citizenship one is required to be able to speak and understand one of the languages of Ghana, predominately Akan language.

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