u:africa talk - The formal-informal economy nexus and its distributive consequences: evidence from Ghana's oil palm sector

12.06.2024 15:00

Speaker: Dr. Solomon Kofi Amoah, University of Ghana


The paper examines the relationship between the formal and informal economy by analysing its complexity and distributive effects. It uses qualitative data from semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions to study how new managerial and rationalisation agendas accompanying neoliberal policies in agro-processing firms impact workforce composition and employment relations in Ghana’s oil palm sector.  It argues that the pursuit of neo-liberal ideals of market-led development of agricultural commodities is leading to increasing privatisation of Ghana’s agricultural sector with an intensification of rationalisation and implementation of managerialist policies that increase the relative surplus labour population and spread the tentacles of labour casualisation even further. The paper draws attention to the growth of temporary and precarious work arrangements in formal organisations and argues that the existing work relations and growing precarity are the effects of the erroneous dichotomous representation of the formal and informal economy. The significance of the informal economy for Ghana's development and post-COVID-19 recovery efforts makes this discussion relevant. It also contributes significantly to the literature on social dialogue and the level of organisation of workers within agricultural economies, particularly from the perspective of the oil palm industry.

Dr Solomon Kofi Amoah holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cape Coast. He currently teaches and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Department of Sociology at the University of Ghana, Legon. Solomon is a BANGA-Africa (Building a New Generation of Academics in Africa) Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna.

Chair: Adams Bodomo

Wednesday, 12th June 2024, 3pm
Department of African Studies - Seminar room 3 
University Campus, court 5.1.,  Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna