In August, Ghanaian authorities closed down shops belonging to some Nigerians in Ghana’s capital, Accra for allegedly failing to regularize “their business concerns as prescribed by the local law.” Many of these shops are still under lock and keys and this has generated rage and on-street protests by some of the Nigerian traders in the country.
The clampdown is the most recent in a series of crackdown on non-Ghanaian traders in the country, raising debates over how hostile the country is becoming for Nigerian traders in the country. The routine inspection which was carried out by an Intergovernmental Task Force on Trade comprising representatives from the National Security, Immigration, and the Ministry for Interior, Ghana Standard Authority, Ministry for Trade and Industry, Ghana Police Service and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) paralysed businesses in some section of the capital city of Accra.
Thus far, the news has not been in the spotlight since it broke out due to the silence of both Ghanaian and Nigerian government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) top officials. However, the continuous closure of these shops has prompted responses from the Nigerian traders and their Ghanaian wives under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS). The traders besieged the Economic Community of West African States’ secretariat located in Abuja on Monday, September 24, 2018, to show their displeasure and nailing the Ghanaian government for its hard approach on Nigerian traders.
Several petitions have been forwarded to the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari who doubles as the chairman of ECOWAS.
“…In August 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the GIPC and the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations in a joint operation established a task force with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders and which had eventually resulted in the ongoing closure of over 400 Nigerian traders’ shops and lawfully established businesses in Kumasi, Ashanti region of Ghana,” said NANTS in the petition submitted to ECOWAS secretariat, Abuja.
However, the traders claim all their efforts to get a quick intervention have not been forthcoming.
Although Nigerian businesses have had an effect on Ghana’s business community, accounting for seventy percent of the country’s petty trade, this has not saved these traders from being repressed constantly without intervention from relevant quarters. It has been a battle for many of the traders who have lost some of their shops and goods to several clashes that have ensued over the years.
Between 2010 and 2012, some shops were closed for not complying with what many of the traders described as a ‘vicious government policy’ that requires every foreigner who wants to start business in Ghana to have an initial capital of $300, 000 and must employ 10 Ghanaians to work with him regardless of the size of the business.
Also in 2014, another disagreement broke out between native traders in the Suame Spare Parts Dealers Association, consequently leading to the padlocking of some shops that belong to Nigerian retailers at the Suame Magazine in Kumasi.
The longstanding feud between indigenous traders and Nigerians traders have further started discussions over the role ECOWAS is playing to stem crisis among citizens of member states. This time, it must be dealt with a holistic approach that curbs future occurrences and creates a common ground for both traders to go by their daily activities.