Nigerian retailers are demanding an amendment of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) law that bars foreigners from retail trade so it can be harmonised with the ECOWAS protocols that allow ECOWAS citizens to freely trade in member countries.
Section 27(1) of GIPC Act 865 generally lays out activities that foreign investors are not permitted to invest or participate in.
This list is not exclusive.
Other laws have provisions on activities reserved for Ghanaians.
These activities include the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
Other activities not permitted for non-citizens include:
the operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles
· the operation of a beauty salon or a barbershop
· the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services
· the production of exercise books and other basic stationery
· the retail of finished pharmaceutical products
· the production, and retail of sachet water
Despite the law, some Nigerians are deeply involved in the retail business in Ghana, which has caused a protracted conflict between them and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
Recently, GUTA closed Nigerian owned shops forcing the Nigerian government to summon Ghana’s Chargé d’Affaires to Africa’s most populous country to protest and demand resolution to the protracted problem.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian community on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Thursday, 20 August 2020, Mr Isaac Osahon Ekhator, General Secretary of the All Nigerian Community in Ghana, said: “We feel that in the implementation of the GIPC law, at least, there should be a level of human face attached to it because many Nigerians came in here believing that as a citizen of ECOWAS, they are free and they are at liberty to carry out their businesses and conduct their affairs within the ECOWAS space and not undermining the laws of the country in which they are domiciled.
“So, if you even look at the passport with which ECOWAS citizens move around, it is written that it’s an ECOWAS passport, so, we were also thinking that the GIPC law should be in harmony, there should be that agreement between the GIPC law and ECOWAS protocol so that we avert some of these problems that we are currently experiencing.”
Article (3) of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS stipulates the removal of trade barriers and harmonisation of trade policies for the establishment of a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market and an eventual culmination into a Monetary and Economic Union in West Africa.