weak local currency and high inflation prevailing in Ghana have created anxieties for wholesale and retail traders in the West African country.
In a recent interview, Leonite Johnson, a vendor of assorted vegetable oil and imported rice at the bustling Makola Market in central Accra, told SAT that the increasing commodity prices had driven consumers away from the market, making life unbearable for the retailers.
“At first, we sold the small gallon of vegetable oil at 45 Ghana cedis (3.2 U.S. dollars), but now the price has increased to 150 cedis, which is too much,” she said.
Besides an increase in imported food prices, local products have also seen an astronomical price jump.
“Fishermen use fuel in their outboard motors to go fishing. But the fuel price has increased several times this year, affecting the fishermen and the middlemen who buy to sell to us,” said Gifty Esenam, a smoked fish monger in the market.
She lamented that the expenditure on the fish trade had become high, compelling vendors to price their wares beyond the reach of ordinary people, saying that “since I came here in the morning, nobody has come to buy from me because they say the price is too high.”
Moreover, similar sentiments were chorused in the various markets around the CBD as both wholesalers and retailers narrated their plights, and those who could not stand the new trend abandoned their daily trading activities.
“I went to the center to get supplies, but I could not buy them because the price was too high for me. We bought a bale of secondhand clothing at 2,500 cedis two weeks ago. Today they are quoting 4,500 cedis, so I can’t afford it,” Attaa Pomaa, a secondhand clothes dealer, told Xinhua.
She added that most of her colleague traders have had to abandon their trading activities over the past few months due to the surging prices.
“We work with loans and pay high-interest rates, so when you receive supplies at such a high price, you may end up locking up your capital, and you can’t service your loan,” she added.
Elizabeth Owusu, Managing Director of Lucky Liz Enterprise, a secondhand clothes importing company, blamed the surge in prices of goods on the exchange rate difficulties and high tariffs.
“We are in double jeopardy because apart from the high dollar rate for our importation, we pay the import tariff also according to the dollar exchange rate,” she told SAT.
Owusu added, “In the past, it took a six-month or one-year period for the dollar rate to inch up against the cedi. But it is a daily affair nowadays. The government should do something about this because our businesses are collapsing, and we are laying off workers.”
Owusu’s words were echoed by many Ghanaian traders, who appealed to the government to take stronger measures to ease the pressure on businesses.
Bank of Ghana’s latest official data released in October said the Ghana cedi had depreciated by 37.5 percent between January and August, while consumer inflation increased to 37.2 percent in September.
The Ghanaian president is poised to address the country on the economic situation on Sunday.