Ghana has made a big statement: I do not want traders but big time investors in the nation. You must bring a minimum of US$1 million in cash or equity for the privilege to do business in Ghana. If you do not have it, leave the country. Yes, that is the secretariat of the AfCTFA (African Continental Free Trade Area) which should ideally project the spirit of this agreement, designed to make African nations to trade among themselves at deeper levels.
The video where Ghanaian authorities are locking up a Nigerian’s shop tells you everything wrong about Africa. That the government of Ghana would expect a trader to have $1 million is unfortunate. The last deal we did in Ghana required only foreign investment of $500,000, and that was coming from the United States, but here, Ghana wants Nigerian traders to pay $1 million, each, within 14 days, and then hire at last 25 skilled Ghanaians.
According to him, an inter-ministerial task force went round on August 10 to identify shops owned by Nigerian traders and requested registration of business taxes, resident permit, standard control and Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration.
“Most of our members do not have the GIPC registration, because it requires one million dollars cash or equity and they gave us 14 days within which to regularise.
“Nigerian life in Ghana matters. This is livelihood of Nigerians being destroyed by Ghanaian Authorities. This is not being perpetrated by a trade union, but Ghanaian authorities.
“They demanded that we must employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanaian workers and must not trade in commodities that Ghanaian traders have applied to trade in,” Mr Nnaji said.
“The humiliation of Nigerians is getting out of hand. We are calling on the Nigerian government to come to our aid.
”We have legally registered our businesses and we pay taxes,” Mr Nnaji said.
Yet, who can blame Ghana? The United States is doing the same in many ways. The United Kingdom is doing it. South Africa has already perfected the playbook.. Nigeria would have done so except that we cannot do it efficiently. If not, the herdsmen who continue to “emerge” from Mali, Niger Republic and Chad would have been stopped; we have tried but we cannot just get anything done.
Simply, the world is unbundling and it’s accelerating at a faster rate in Africa. Nigeria began the new era with the land border closure, and Ghana is extending it with shop closure. South Africans blew the big horn in the most unfortunate way, lynching fellow Africans. The fact is this: Africans are getting poorer as the population is now rising faster than the economic growth. As that happens, governments will fall into a knee jerk reaction, and when that happens, populism rises. Unfortunately, this unbundling becomes an easy divisive option, instead of looking for real solutions. Simply, politicians will use fellow Africans to attain equilibrium on nationalism and populism. Yes, the only reason Ghanaians are not progressing is because Nigerian traders are trading away all the best opportunities, keeping Ghana poor!
If you have not noticed, AfCTFA may fade even before it begins since no African leader has castigated Ghana for this draconian approach to its neighbour. But with what Nigeria did to Benin Republic, Togo, etc on border closure, you can pardon those leaders; most posit that AfCFTA could be a hopeless initiative unless there is a rebirth in our African spirits. Today, those countries are buying from Europe, instead of Lagos, and most have moved on! Yet, someone is wasting time celebrating a document of unity on trade when we cannot do basic things as citizens of this continent: aspire to rise together, paper or no paper.