The consistent locking-up of Nigerian shops by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is becoming worrying, and could strain relations between two sister-West African states.
GUTA is taking the law into its own hands, and should be called out for what it is doing.
Nowhere in our statutes does it say GUTA should enforce the GIPC law on foreigners in retail trade, since there are agencies clothed with such responsibility; and the Ministry of Trade and Industry is not helping matters either, by stalling in finding a resolution to the matter while GUTA runs riot putting people’s livelihood in jeopardy.
In one breath we are basking in the fact that Accra will host the AfCFTA secretariat, yet in another we are penalising fellow community members of ECOWAS on the presumption that retail trade is a Ghanaian preserve.
The GIPC law was specifically crafted to promote foreign direct investment into the Ghanaian economy, which is why it was anticipated it should hold provisions like Section 28 of the GIPC law that says in part:
2) A person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise if that person invests in the enterprise not less than US$1million in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments.
This provision, in our humble opinion, cannot apply to community members of ECOWAS since it runs counter to the spirit and letter of the regional body’s Charter that was crafted in 1975 – long before the GIPC Act came into being.
Therefore, it is our considered opinion that GIPC provisions should have taken the country’s commitment to international treaties like the ECOWAS and AU into consideration while drafting the investment law, so that it could be aligned or even incorporate certain provisions to make this important distinction.
As it stands now, this provision is causing too much tension between Ghanaians and their Nigerian counterparts, and this should be amply evident by now. As a result, we had hoped that government would take a second-look at the GIPC Act and amend or review certain provisions so as to enable fruitful and brotherly relations to be fostered.
The animosity and heightened tension is bad for relations between these two foremost ECOWAS states, and does not bode well for future prospects. Let’s be mindful of what we do in the name of upholding the GIPC Act.