Accepted paper:

''We do the donkey's job and they take the glory'': perspectives from National Development Experts on Ghana's development landscape


Emmanuel Kumi (Leiden University)
Palash Kamruzzaman (University of South Wales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the motivations, interests, agency and roles and engagement of National Development Experts (NDEs)in Ghana's development landscape.

Paper long abstract:

National Development Experts (NDEs) play a unique role as knowledge brokers between governments, intended beneficiaries and donors by providing insiders' perspectives on national development policies and practices. Due to their local contextual knowledge, they influence national development, democracy and politics through their formulation of policies and engagement with development stakeholders. However, discussion of their motivations, interests and agency for engaging in development work and their roles as knowledge brokering has been particularly limited in the development literature. Drawing on twenty-five semi-structured interviews with national development experts (NGOs, consultants, donor representatives, think tanks, academics and civil servants) in Ghana, this article presents findings on the motivations, interests, roles and the engagement of national development experts in Ghana's development landscape. The article contributes to the emerging literature on the ethnography of aid by providing a more comprehensive perspective of national development experts often ignored in the existing body of knowledge. It finds that foreign development experts rather than national development experts drive Ghana development policies and agenda despite the later having local contextual knowledge. This article further highlights the perspectives of national development experts on their engagements with foreign experts and its implications for national development and future research.

panel C4
National development experts and professionals: under-researched yet important actors in development