Is better to be a kayayei than to be unemployed: reflecting on the role of head portering in ghana’s informal economy

Yaa Ankomaa Agyei, Emmanuel Kumi, Thomas Yeboah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


The implementation of neoliberal economic reforms with its resultant effects on rural agricultural economies has facilitated the migration of young girls from northern to southern Ghana to seek for alternative livelihoods in the urban informal economy as head porters (Kayayei). Using semi-structured questionnaires and interviews with 45 Kayayei in Makola and Agbogbloshie Markets, Accra, this study examines how migration as a livelihood strategy contributes to an improvement in the living conditions of young girls and their families. The paper also looks more closely into the pathways through which the livelihoods of these young female migrants may contribute to local economic development. The study highlights that Kayayei contribute to local economic development through market exchange and revenue generation, also there is significant perceived positive impact of head portering on standard of living of these young girls through improved access to income, health care and asset accumulation while their families benefit from remittances. The study concludes by advocating for the need to provide access to credit and skills training in enhancing the livelihood of Kayayei.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-318
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Ghana
  • Head porters (Kayayei)
  • Livelihoods
  • Migration
  • Remittances
  • Standard of living

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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