The changing nature of UK aid in Ghana

UK aid has been “mostly effective” at helping some of the poorest and most vulnerable in Ghana – but as the country works to become less reliant on aid, the UK should take care not to scale back its financial support too quickly.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 12 February 2020
  3. Type: Country portfolio review
  4. Subject: Country focus, Transitioning development partnerships
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Ghana
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:No poverty, Reduced inequalities, Partnerships for the goals, Good health and wellbeing, Quality education, Gender equality, Decent work and economic growth, Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Read the approach paper

Our approach

This is the first country portfolio review by ICAI, representing a new way of analysing the impact of UK aid at a country level. It is a qualitative review that assesses the relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of all UK official development assistance (ODA) flows to Ghana relative to the UK’s objectives, with an emphasis on:

  • Transforming the Ghana economy: Contribution of UK aid to inclusive growth in Ghana.
  • Leaving no one behind: Contribution of UK aid to tackling extreme poverty and vulnerability in Ghana, including through addressing gender disparities.
  • Building Ghanaian Institutions: Contribution of UK aid to the development of competent and sustainable Ghanaian institutions.
  • Transition in the UK/Ghana partnership: The management of transition in the UK/Ghana partnership and safeguarding of past development gains.

This review covers all UK ODA to Ghana from 2011 to the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year. This encompasses the shift in the programmatic focus of UK aid as articulated through the DFID Ghana Operational Plan 2011-15, and accelerated in the DFID Ghana Business Plan 2016-17 to 2019-20. The review covers all bilateral UK aid to Ghana from all UK government departments and the UK attributed share of multilateral aid.

We conducted a literature review (see below) and a review of UK aid’s strategy and policies at the global, regional, country and thematic/sector level. We then reviewed existing ODA data and collected and analysed secondary evidence of the relevance, performance and sustainability of UK aid-supported programmes in Ghana and of progress against UK aid objectives for the portfolio. We also conducted a stakeholder consultation to solicit feedback from key institutional informants and Ghanaian citizens across the themes of interest for the review.

Review questions

We sought to answer the following questions:

  1. How well has the UK aid portfolio responded to Ghana’s development needs and UK strategic objectives?
  2. How effective has UK aid been in achieving its strategic objectives in Ghana?
  3. How likely are the results of UK aid to be sustained in the future?




Published 20 May 2019

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 12 February 2020

Government response

Published 25 March 2020

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 9 July 2020

ICAI follow-up

Published 23 June 2021

Further follow-up

Published 30 June 2022

Third follow-up

Published 18 July 2023