What is the Position of the GIPC Law in Relation to Retail Trade in Ghana?

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is an agency of the Government of the Republic of Ghana and established under the GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865) to among others, encourage and promote investments in Ghana and to provide for the creation of an attractive incentive framework and a transparent, predictable and facilitating environment for investments in Ghana.

The objective of the Centre is to create an enhanced, transparent and responsive environment for investment and the development of the Ghanaian economy through investment. Under Act 865, there are specific provisions which relate to how persons who are not citizens can engage in trading, including retail trade. There are also provisions which provide for sanctions against enterprises that breach the provisions of Act 865.

ACTIVITIES RESERVED FOR GHANAIANS AND GHANAIAN OWNED ENTERPRISES

Section 27(1) of 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 barber shop
  • 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

 Section 27(2) of Act 865 additionally provides that the Minister in consultation with the Board may by Legislative Instrument amend the list of enterprises reserved for citizens and enterprises wholly owned by citizens.

CAN PERSONS WHO ARE NOT CITIZENS OF GHANA ENGAGE IN RETAIL TRADING ACTIVITIES?

Section 28(2) of Act 865 expressly provides for the conditions under which a person who is not a citizen can engage in trading activities. The provision provides as follows:

 A person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise if that person invests in the enterprise, not less than One Million United States Dollars in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments. Section 28(3) of Act 865 further provides that “trading” includes the purchasing and selling of imported goods and services. A further condition imposed on foreign enterprises that intend to engage in trading by Section 28(4) is that such an enterprise must employ at least twenty (20) skilled Ghanaians.

According to Section 28(5) of Act 865, the minimum foreign capital requirements to invest in Ghana including for engaging in trading, do not apply to the foreign spouse of a citizen of Ghana to the extent that

  • the foreign spouse is or has been married to a citizen of Ghana for a minimum period of five years continuously or holds an indefinite resident permit prior to registration of an enterprise;
  • the marriage has been duly verified as having been validly conducted;
  • the foreign spouse is ordinarily resident in Ghana

 In relation to the above, Section 28(6) of Act 865 further provides that a citizen of Ghana who loses his or her citizenship by reason of the assumption of the citizenship of another country shall not be required to comply with the minimum capital requirements including that of engaging in trading. Foreigners who fulfil this minimum requirement for trading are prohibited from trading in markets, stores and stalls. Foreigners are also prohibited from hawking.

 OFFENCES AND PENALTIES RELATED TO RETAIL TRADE CONTRARY TO ACT 865

 Section 40 of Act 865 provides for a list of offences. A person commits an offence under Act 865 if the person among others,   

  • lets out a stall or store in a market to a foreigner; or
  • otherwise contravenes a provision of this Act.

 The effect of this provision is that a person who is not a citizen of Ghana who engages in retail trade without meeting the minimum capital requirements set out in Section 28 of Act 865 commits an offence under Act 865. Ghanaians or non-Ghanaians who let out a stall or a store in a market to a foreigner also commit a breach of Act 865.

 Section 41 of Act 865 provides certain sanctions for the offences listed in Section 40 of Act 865. These penalties include a summary conviction to a fine of not less than five hundred penalty units and not more than one thousand penalty units.

The Centre entreats the public and relevant stakholders to excersise restraint as this matter is being handled in Parliament by the joint Committee on Trade,Industry and Tourism, Defence and Interior.

Source: GIPC