Dozens of foreign-owned shops, most of them Nigerians, were forcibly closed in Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city, on Thursday by angry traders, the president of Ghana’s trade union said on Friday.
« Our local markets are invaded by foreigners, » Joseph Obeng, president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, told AFP. « Many businesses, especially those owned by Nigerians, are not in good standing. « .
« Our members are agitated because we have been told for years that illegal markets will be closed, but this is still not the case, » said Obeng.
In Ghana, foreigners are not allowed to engage in retail trade, but this law is poorly enforced.
Traders in Kumasi (south) are calling on the Ghanaian government to retaliate against Nigeria, a huge market of 190 million people, as they believe they are being hit by the closure of Nigeria’s land borders.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed decided in August to close all land borders and prohibit any import or export of products by road, to try to revive its economy and fight against contraband.
The economic consequences of this ultra-protectionist measure, which runs counter to all the commercial treaties in West Africa, are felt on all the markets of the sub-region.
However, the Ghanaian authorities have called on GUTA members to suspend blockades and closures of businesses, saying that these actions could affect relations with Nigeria.
« Their economy is six times larger than ours, why go to the confrontation with them? (…) I am on the side of GUTA, I just want us to take our time to find a solution, « reacted to radio Carlos Ahenkorah, the Ghanaian Minister of Commerce.
In June, more than 30 stores owned by Nigerians had already been closed in Kumasi by traders who accused them of selling cheaper products.