Frank Mintah was a 2019 NELGA-DAAD scholarship holder at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He shares his story on the impact of the NELGA experience on a childhood dream.
Born and raised in Ghana’s Ashanti area, Frank grew up in an environment where he had many interactions with his family, community, and social systems. Born with an artistic flair, Frank often listened to the radio and watched the news in his childhood days, exposing him to Ghana’s daily and rising social problems. As he got older, Frank became increasingly passionate about social change in Ghana and explained that “As I gained more knowledge and insight into these social phenomena through school, I became more passionate about the social and economic problems that affect the well-being of people. Though I was not sure how the process was going to be, I wanted to use my talent in art and design through a meaningful adventure to help resolve the critical problems of society.”
With a passion for knowledge, he got admitted into Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), NELGA’s West Africa node, to pursue a B.Sc in Human Settlement Planning in 2012. “I found this programme very relevant to my talent and passion for making an impact in society through planning for sustainable communities and land management, utilizing knowledge from a wide range of fields including social policy, economics and geography”, he says. Frank graduated in 2016 with a First-Class Honours and got the opportunity to work as a Teaching and Research Assistant at KNUST’s Department of Planning, project assistantships with the Kumasi Metropolitan Area’s Town and Country Planning Department at the Department of Transport.
Wanting to have more hands-on and regional experience on Africa’s land space, in 2017, he applied for a NELGA-DAAD scholarship to pursue an MPhil degree in Planning and Land Governance.
The NELGA-DAAD scholarship provides academic support to students to further their skills and knowledge in the land governance space in Africa. As future land policymakers and land practitioners, the scholarship supports the African Unions Land Agenda by bridging capacity gaps in land governance space towards the economic and social development of the continent.
Like many of the scholarship recipients, he was excited to pursue his study.
“It gave me memories that will last for a lifetime. The programme offered the opportunity to complement my knowledge in land use planning with the governance arrangements that influence land-use decisions and land-use outcomes. Within my scholarship period, I also obtained the DAAD short-term research stay scholarship to undertake a research residency in Germany, at the Chair of Land Management, in the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The scholarship again allowed me to join international conferences, including the Conference on Land Policy in Africa in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and the Sustainable Development for Africa Seminar at TUM (Munich, Germany), among many other in-country research and networking events.
Essentially, my experiences on the NELGA programme exposed me to critical issues related to land tenure security, land policy, land administration, gender and development, and environmental sustainability, at the local, national and international levels. I got a practical understanding of how social problems manifest in different forms in different places but are connected in several ways, which make intercultural learning and knowledge sharing very important in research and practice.”
After completing his Master’s in 2019, he worked with the Department of Planning (KNUST) as a Research and Project Assistant. Within that period, he engaged in various research activities and projects that relate to both land governance and national development. His research article on customary land governance and wetland management in Kumasi was published and he contributed a chapter on ‘ Discourse on women and land tenure in Ghana: Does a matrilineal land tenure system make a difference for women?’ to a book titled “Land Governance and Gender: The Tenure-Gender Nexus in Land Management and Land Policy” . In addition, he worked on national projects, including an assessment study of the Volta Lake Inland Water Transportation project, which aimed to accelerate socio-economic development for over 21 municipalities along the Volta Lake in Ghana.
NELGA mentorship, scholarship, opportunities and his personal desire for change inspired him to further his studies again. Currently, Frank is a PhD researcher at the Institute of Geography in the University of Bern, in Switzerland on Geography and Sustainable Development. As part of a broader Sustain-Forest Project, his research focuses on the governance arrangements that work for sustainable forest use and management in agricultural landscapes of West Africa, which the European Research Commission funds. He believes the knowledge and skills he gained through the NELGA program were extremely relevant to the research he is now undertaking.
Now getting closer to his career goal to be an international development expert focusing on natural resource governance, climate change, sustainable communities and sustainable development, he cites the DAAD and NELGA programme support as the crucial stepping stone that brought him closer to his aspiration. Having begun his PhD studies, he plans to utilize the international opportunities available to broaden his scope of knowledge and network, as well as contribute to policy formulation within the field of sustainable natural resources management and governance.
To read Frank’s research, click below: