2017 Issue

The one-district one-factory policy: the role of tertiary institutions

The current New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has promised to implement an industrialisation programme dubbed ‘one-district one-factory’ (ODOF), which will facilitate the economic growth of Ghana and help achieve the status of a ‘developed country’ in West Africa.1 The aims of the programme are generally consistent with the ‘spirit’ of the Vision 2020 plan launched by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 1995 under former President Jerry John Rawlings.2 The heart of the Vision 2020 plan was the effective integration and utilization of science and technology to drive economic growth in Ghana, improve the wellbeing of citizens and protect the environment. The policy also proposed a decentralised system whereby the different districts in Ghana take responsibility for their development and management of resources. The success of the NDC plan was challenged by internal and external politics and changes in government.3,4

The ODOF was one of the key campaign promises of the current President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo towards the 2016 general elections. The implementation plan of the policy was reported in January 2017.5 More than GHȻ450 million has been made available to implement the ODOF policy from June 2017.6–8 Put briefly, the policy seeks to establish a factory in all the 216 districts in Ghana. This short article argues that the success and sustainability of the policy can be achieved by empowering tertiary institutions as business incubators to support students and graduates with entrepreneurial ideas.

A business incubator (BI) is a scheme established by an organisation to support new businesses to thrive. The BI provides a range of resources and services including office space or business infrastructure, start-up planning and advice, financial grants, marketing advice, stakeholder and investor networks, commercialisation and specialist business training.9 The crucial role and advantages of BIs in accelerating industrialisation programs have been detailed in several studies. A review of the BI phenomenon by Ayatse et al10 shows that incubation programs enhance the survival and performance of new ventures. Key outcomes that are positively impacted by BIs include job creation, revenue growth, financial support, and robust training, resource and business networking.10,11 Incubator programs also stimulate innovation and drive sustainable development.12,13 An example of a BI is the Kumasi Business Incubator (KBI) established by KNUST in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in 2013.14–16 The program seeks to utilise the BI phenomenon to support students and graduates. The KBI is mainly focused on ICT business ideas and has supported over 25 companies since its inception.16 The initiative supports new businesses for one year.  Though a great step in the right direction, an all-inclusive program for all sciences and disciplines, supported by a national policy, is highly recommended.

There are thousands of students who graduate from the various tertiary institutions across Ghana every year. Most of them graduate with excellent business ideas either as part of their curriculum or independently. For example, final year biochemistry students at KNUST are trained to develop business plans as part of their Management and Entrepreneurship Course. The range of ideas includes the production of functional foods, nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical products, large-scale mushroom farming, public health emergency technologies, large-scale ethanol production, and waste management and recycling systems. Unfortunately, these ideas are abandoned on graduation partly due to the limited financial and business support, and industrial opportunities in Ghana.

Through the tertiary institution business incubators (TIBI), the ODOF industrialisation programme will operate outside of politics. This will prevent the desertion of the programme should there be a change in government. Secondly, the programme will provide young scientists and other students with the necessary training and support including business planning, financial advice, market research and industry logistics at the pre and startup phase. The research laboratory facilities of the tertiary institutions can be used to evaluate or test industrial products and services prior to start-up. The library facilities and ICT centres of the universities can also be used for developing ideas from literature. These opportunities can stimulate innovation among young scientists/entrepreneurs and reduce start-up costs and create extra funding for investment in other areas.

Another advantage of TIBI is the establishment of a continuous direct link between the thriving industries and tertiary institutions.17 This form of collaboration is crucial for industrial and technological advancement.18 The industries complement the universities by providing industrial training and practical skills to students through work placements or industrial attachments. The research agenda of the universities will be informed by industrial needs, creating opportunities for direct translation of research into practice. Further, universities can host the research and development departments of the industries.  This can help establish a network of industry-focused research centres to support the education of students. The collaboration between the two sectors will thus facilitate a synergistic growth of the industrialisation programme.

Finally, the TIBI approach could help generate and nurture new knowledge and ideas, driving the establishment of more companies and businesses beyond the district level. All the various disciplines in the tertiary institutions will be engaged through the programme. The ODOF industrialisation agenda requires an expansion of the banking system, road constructions, infrastructure development, estate and community development, agriculture, IT and communication sector, transportation system, textiles, design and publishing industry, marketing and commercialisation and many other areas.  This will facilitate the goal of increasing job opportunities for the youth in the medium- to long-term.

In conclusion, this short article argues that the ODOF policy of the NPP government is a laudable programme that can be sustained by empowering tertiary institutions as business incubators. The reasons in support of the TIBI approach include the dissociation of the programme from politics, nurturing of students and graduates as successful entrepreneurs, the establishment of a strong tertiary institution-industry linkage, and the high prospects of expanding the programme beyond the district level.


  1. NPP. Change, an agenda for jobs: Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunities for All [Internet]. New Patriotic Party (NPP); 2016 [cited 2017 May 29]. 31 p. Available from: http://newpatrioticparty.org/docs/2016-manifesto-full.pdf
  2. National Development Planning Commission. Ghana Vision 2020: the first step 1996-2000 [Internet]. Accra: Government of Ghana; 1995 [cited 2017 Feb 16]. Available from: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ndpc-static/CACHES/NEWS/2015/07/27//Vision+2020-First+Step.pdf
  3. Sampson D. Ghana’s Vision for Development: A Study of Ghana Vision 2020 and the GPRS I and II [Internet] [MPhil]. [Accra]: University of Ghana; 2014 [cited 2017 Jun 9]. Available from: http://ugspace.ug.edu.gh/bitstream/123456789/7239/1/Danso%20Sampson_%20%20Ghana%E2%80%99s%20Vision%20for%20Development%20A%20Study%20of%20Ghana%20Vision%202020%20and%20the%20Gprs%20I%20and%20Ii_2014.pdf
  4. Tamakloe K. Ghana’s vision 2020, 7-year development Plan [Internet]. Ghana Web. 2014 [cited 2017 Feb 16]. Available from: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Ghana-s-vision-2020-7-year-development-Plan-319697
  5. Imirhe T, Desewu E. One district one factory implementation plan revealed [Internet]. Ghana News. 2017 [cited 2017 May 29]. Available from: http://citifmonline.com/2017/01/14/one-district-one-factory-implementation-plan-revealed/
  6. Daily Guide Africa. Gov’t Releases GH¢465m For One-District-One-Factory Project [Internet]. Daily Guide Africa. 2017 [cited 2017 May 29]. Available from: http://dailyguideafrica.com/govt-releases-gh%c2%a2465m-one-district-one-factory-project/
  7. Welsing K. Gov’t releases GH¢465m for one-district-one-factory project [Internet]. Starr Fm. 2017 [cited 2017 Jun 9]. Available from: http://starrfmonline.com/2017/04/11/govt-releases-gh%c2%a2465m-for-one-district-one-factory-project/
  8. Myjoyonline. “One district, one factory” takes off in June [Internet]. Myjoyonline. 2017 [cited 2017 May 29]. Available from: http://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2017/april-20th/one-district-one-factory-takes-off-in-june.php
  9. Adegbite O. Business Incubators and Small Enterprise Development: The Nigerian Experience. Small Bus Econ. 2001 Nov 1;17(3):157–66.
  10. Ayatse FA, Kwahar N, Iyortsuun AS. Business incubation process and firm performance: an empirical review. J Glob Entrep Res. 2017 Jan 17;7(1):2.
  11. Hernández R, Carrà G. A Conceptual Approach for Business Incubator Interdependencies and Sustainable Development. Agric Agric Sci Procedia. 2016 Jan 1;8:718–24.
  12. Lose T, Tengeh RK. The Sustainability and Challenges of Business Incubators in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Sustainability. 2015 Oct 22;7(10):14344–57.
  13. Luisa Margarida Cagica Carvalho, Simone Vasconcelos Galina. The role of business incubators for start-ups development in Brazil and Portugal. World J Entrep Manag Sustain Dev. 2015 Sep 28;11(4):256–67.
  14. Centre for Business Development. Kumasi Business Incubator [Internet]. KNUST. [cited 2017 Jun 9]. Available from: https://cbd.knust.edu.gh/departments/kbi
  15. University Relations Office. KNUST Inaugurates Kumasi Business Incubator [Internet]. KNUST. 2014 [cited 2017 Jun 9]. Available from: https://www.knust.edu.gh/news/news-items/knust-inaugurates-kumasi-business-incubator
  16. KNUST. Call for Applications, Kumasi Business Incubator Project [Internet]. KNUST. 2015 [cited 2017 Jun 9]. Available from: https://www.knust.edu.gh/announcements/general/call-for-applications-kumasi-business-incubator-project
  17. Grimaldi R, Grandi A. The Contribution of University Business Incubators to New Knowledge-Based Ventures: Evidence from Italy. Ind High Educ. 2001 Aug 1;15(4):239–50.
  18. Doner RF, Intarakumnerd P, Ritchie BK. University–Industry Linkages in Thailand: Sources of Weakness in Economic Upgrading. Sci Technol Soc. 2013 Jul 1;18(2):213–29.

©2017 Scientect e-mag | Volume 2 (1): A2

Categories: 2017 Issue, News

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