Ghana Moves To Sack Nigerian Traders


Effective November 2014, non-Ghanaians illegally undertaking retail

business will be arrested and put before special courts for prosecution.

This is the outcome of interaction between Dr Spio Garbrah, Trade

Minister, and Mrs. Georgina Wood, Chief Justice, on the rumpus in the

country's retail trade sector.
The Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act 865, which came into

effect in 2013, has been met with mixed feelings by locals and non-locals.

The locals, led by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) see it as

“a Daniel come to judgment” (apologies to The Merchant Of Venice) while

foreign traders, especially Nigerians, perceive it as a stumbling block on

which they must overleap or fall.
The Law does not forbid foreigners from trading in Ghana but they are not

expected to partake in petty trading at designated markets. It also allows

non-locals to trade in Ghana provided they have one million US dollars in

cash or goods, to be ascertained by customs clearance forms or certified

by the country's central bank and additionally, employs 20 Ghanaians.

Though the legislation aims at preserving the retail trade for the local

people to the exclusion of all foreigners, Nigerian traders in the country

see it as a measure meant to flush them out of business.

The crux of the misunderstanding is against the background that most of

the over 10,000 Nigerians could not meet the former criteria of 300,000 US

dollars, how much more the upgraded one million US dollars?

To GUTA, the large numbers of Nigerian traders in the country's markets is

a complete take over of the retail business which is a total preserve of

locals, and if the move is left unchecked would deprive Ghanaian traders

of their livelihood.
But do one blame the foreigner for the woes of the locals? In a lot of

instances the non-Ghanaians carry out their operations with the consent of

Ghanaians who front for them in the market centres.

Interestingly, the Nigerian traders have not sat down idly bemoaning their

fate while the saga of the GIPC Law rages on – they have combined legal

process with diplomacy to stifle the operations of the Law.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, last year, dismissed a case brought

against Ghana by some Nigerian traders plying their trade in the country.

The group led by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and

the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG) petitioned the

Court over the new GIPC Law revised in July, 2013, which among others

specifies the criteria foreigners will have to meet in order to engage in

business activities in Ghana.
Ghana argued that the Law was necessary to protect domestic interests and

could not have been said to violate any ECOWAS protocol.

Ruling, the Sub-Regional Court rejected the position of the traders that

sections of the new GIPC Act that bar foreigners from engaging in retail

trade in the Ghanaian markets are in violation of the ECOWAS Protocol on

free movement of people and goods.
Now that special courts are to be set up for the prosecution of foreigners

illegally engaged in the retail trade and their local front men, the

Nigerian Community is calling for a dialogue to resolve the issue.

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