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Nigerian traders angered by Ghana shop closures

15 September 2020

Nigerian traders in Ghana have accused local authorities of discrimination after many had their shops closed in the capital Accra.  

They say it’s part of a trade war in the region that has seen foreign businessmen fighting for control over local retail with native Ghanaians since 2019.

Since last year the Ghana Union of Traders Association has been pushing for the application of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) laws, which prohibits foreigners from becoming involved in retail trade, and only allowing Ghanaians.

This has led to the persistent closure of foreign-owned retail shops with several hundred Nigerian-owned stores being affected in Circle and Kumasi, the capital cities of the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions respectively.

Traders have been already suffering with the pandemic that deepened the economic crisis in the region, and the restrictions being imposed now by Ghana authorities are leaving them in an ever more difficult situation, said Ebuka Chukwu who works in Ghana to support his parents in Nigeria and whose store was also closed.

According to Chukwuemeka Nnaji, President of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG), the Ghanaian trade authorities have told them that Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) nationals will not be affected by the one million US dollar threshold mandated by the GIPC law for non-citizens who want to invest in Ghana.

For Nnaji, the measures being taken by local authorities against Nigerians are not following the ECOWAS protocols on trade, and the NUTAG has petitioned the Nigerian government to intervene. Last week the Nigerian government issued a statement saying it has been registering acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities adding that it will not tolerate such treatment of its citizens.

The Ghanaian government has denied the allegations.

The fight over retail commerce that some may consider a minor issue, could affect the future of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA), that has still to be ratified by Nigeria, said Louis Afful, an international economic analyst.

This report is from the AP news agency.

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