27th August, 2010
Nigerian traders in Ghana have been lamenting about government policies that might send them out of business.
Recently, the Ghanaian government reactivated a 1994 law that demanded a minimum investment of N45 million (US$300,000).
According to Nigerian traders, the law is a barrier to trade and foreign investment, while it ensure cheaper prices to Ghanaians. They said Ghana is fast joining the ranks of the nations not good for business.
They cannot understand why Nigerians and other West Africans are subjected to N45 million minimum investment but only N750,000 was required of other foreign-owned companies and a paltry sum of N150,000 minimum investment for foreign-local joint ventures under the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act.
However, Ghana Investment Protection Council GIPC official, Mr. Matthew Gyamfi, told a Nigerian daily recently that â€œthe policy was not designed as a witch-hunt against the nationals of any country, whether Nigeria or others. To us, it is an investment promotion strategy.â€
But Nigerian traders are of the view that the law shows that Ghana considers trade to be a threat, along old protectionist lines, believing imports suck the money out of an economy.
Nigerian traders believe trade makes countries prosperous and competitive. They can only import if they already have foreign currency to buy things with.Â Ghanaâ€™s huge trade balance with Nigeria means it is earning money from exports elsewhere.
The law contradicts Vice President John Dramani Mahamaâ€™s statement seeking investment from business in London in July.
The Vice President said: â€œGovernment recognises the importance of competition, diversification and infrastructure development in economic growth, as well as in the attraction and retention of foreign Direct Investment.â€
In business rankings, out of 183 countries, Ghana has fallen from 87th position last year to 92nd position in a World Bankâ€™s Doing Business rankings.
Ghanaâ€™s raking of the 1994 law has its implication on Ghana as a member of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, which demands its support to regional trade to foster cooperation.
Despite the obstacles, trade between Nigeria and Ghana in recent years has increased four-fold but mainly consists of oil.
Nigeriansâ€™ investment in Ghana presently stands at N900 billion which boosts jobs, wealth and increase taxable income.