German Ministers visit Ghana to address labour migration and supply chains.
The "Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz" (Supply Chain Act) - this is a particularly complicated word even for Germans, although we are known to be the masters of long and complicated words. But this word, this act was one of the reasons why the German Development Minister, Svenja Schulze (BMZ), and the German Labour Minister, Hubertus Heil, visited Ghana together from 20 to 22 February.
Germany and the whole of Europe are connected through global supply chains with companies in Ghana and in other countries of the global South. Cocoa and coffee are delivered to Europe from here, clothes are produced in Asia and sent to Germany. This results in a responsibility for companies in countries like Germany to ensure that human rights and environmental standards are respected along the supply chains, for example that no children must work in factories or that no toxic and harmful chemicals are used. To enforce this, the German government has passed this law, the Supply Chain Act, and one is soon to follow at the European level. The Ministers Schulze and Heil now came to Ghana to see how the implementation of the new legal regulations can lead to better working and environmental conditions.
Seamstresses report on working conditions.
For this purpose, we as GIZ prepared and organised visits to various stations in the textile supply chain. The delegation visited KAD Manufacturing, one of the leading companies in the textile industry. Mrs Schulze and Mr Heil visited the factory premises along the production steps and exchanged views with the seamstresses about their working conditions. The Invest for Jobs - Special Initiative "Decent Work for a Just Transition" supports KAD and other Ghanaian garment manufacturers to meet international standards and create jobs for local women and youth, thus improving their living conditions. Another aspect of the textile supply chain was less positive: together, the ministers also visited the Kantomanto Market, one of the largest second-hand clothing markets in the world. Around 30,000 people earn their living by selling or processing second-hand textiles, but the quality of the goods is getting worse. About 40 percent of the imported clothing can neither be sold nor used for recycling and is thus textile waste. Which brings us to another stop on the visit: At the Korle-Bu Lagoon and the Old Fadama residential area, where the textile waste ends up and poisons the river, lagoon, beach and sea, and where people have to live in the midst of mountains of waste. Both ministers were shocked, and Mrs Schulze said: “It is terrible what kind of environmental destruction is being done here, with textiles that come from us in Germany."
Attracting skilled workers to Europe.
Another important topic during the visit of the two ministers was regular labour migration. During their visit, the Ghanaian-German Centre for Labour, Migration and Reintegration, which has already existed since 2017, was renamed the Ghanaian European Centre for Labour, Migration and Development. The centre remains the contact point for people returning from Germany, Europe or other countries who need support for reintegration. In the future, the centre will be even more of a contact point for people interested in regular migration to Germany, Europe or within their region. Before the ministers travelled on to Côte d'Ivoire, they expressed high estimation for our work, and confirmed that they wanted to strengthen cooperation with Ghana.