Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Ademola Onafowokan has disclosed that Ghana has repealed the law requiring foreigners interested in trading within the country to possess an equity capital of at least $300, 000, and employ at least 10 Ghanaians.
Section 19 (3) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 478, 1994, states that “In the case of trading enterprise involving only the purchasing and selling of goods, which is either wholly or partly owned by a non-Ghanaian, there shall be an investment of foreign capital, or its equivalence in goods worth at least $300,000.00 by way of equity capital, and the enterprise shall employ at least 10 Ghanaians.”
The Act which had been signed into law since 1994 but was eventually implemented in July, saw foreign businessmen and traders who could not fulfil the demands of the law, shut down their venture and deported.
The Ghanaian micro trading industry was reserved for Ghanians through the provision of the investment law. It is believed the saturation of Nigerian traders in the Ghanaian trading industry necessitated the enforcement of the law, specifically targeting Nigerians, in order to preserve the livelihood of Ghanaian micro traders who had been lamenting.
The Nigerian high commissioner, Onafowokan, admitted that the implementation of the investment law was inflicted on Nigerian traders but that the Federal Government has intervened in the matter.
“We have been able to speak with the Ghanaian authorities to drop the issue of 300,000 dollars and for now they are not disturbing any Nigerian,” he said.
He however stated many Nigerians were not conforming to ECOWAS and immigration laws due to ignorance. He stated that many Nigerians were living in Ghana without Nigerian passports because they think the ECOWAS treaty grants migration within west African states without passports, not knowing after three months they have to obtain a resident permit.
“When people come from Nigeria across the border to this place they do not have passport and these people are saying go and regularised your stay, before you can do business and you don’t want to do it, but you want to do it by force. You are saying ECOWAS, yes ECOWAS Treaty exists but the treaty says 90 days, which is three months, after which you must regularise your stay,” he added.
According to a Business Day report, of about a million Nigerians resident in Ghana, only 10, 000 are registered with the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana.
Onafowokan concluded by urging the National Orientation Agency to educate Nigerians on immigration laws before traveling out of the country.
According to a BusinessDay report, the Deputy Head of Mission in the Ghana High Commission in Abuja, Irene Maamah, said that the Ghanaian Government denied allegations that ECOWAS citizens in Ghana were expected to pay $300,000 and employ 10 Ghanaians before they can operate.
He also said that the Act did not prevent foreigners from trading in Ghana but allowed foreigners to trade on a large-scale while petty trading was reserved for Ghanaians.
Nigeria has also been in a cross-fire with South Africa over alleged deportation of its citizen. In 2008, there was a xenophobic uprising in South Africa catalysed by high rate of unemployment, against Nigerians in search of economic freedom in South Africa.