SMEs the biggest losers in Nigeria border closure

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and petty traders are bearing the brunt of Nigeria’s land borders closure, as the situation is preventing them from restocking their goods.

In August last year, the Nigerian government ordered the closure of its land borders to certain neighbouring countries, including Ghana, in a move to curb smuggling of commodities through its borders in order to improve security and economic benefits for the country.

The continuous closure of the border, the Ghanaian traders say, has not only affected sales and profit but also shrunk their capital. Some of the traders shared their predicaments with the B&FT.

Ama Andoh, a trader of lace fabrics at the Accra Central Market, noted that the border-closure is having a dire effect on her business.

“We are unable to do our normal business again. These days, going to Nigeria to bring goods has become so problematic. My shop is virtually empty, because even though I have the capital to restock I am unable to do so.

“They are saying it will be opened at the end of this month and we strongly hope they do, because is it a sad situation for we traders,” she said.

Another Ghanaian businesswoman, Kiptiya Mohammed who is also a trader of laces and other fabrics, lamented about the ordeal she has had to go through since the border was closed.

“Seriously, the situation has slowed our business because you would go to Nigeria, buy your things and come back to Ghana hoping that, in about a week, your goods will arrive. You would wait and the goods will never come. When you call, they will be telling you stories about the situation at the border.

“It even reduces your capital, because the business no longer moves the way it is supposed to. We just hope something will be done about it for us to bounce back,” she said.

Some of the traders, out of desperation, have even resorted to using dangerous alternate routes in order to remain in business until the border issue is resolved.

One trader, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, recounted a time when she had to transport goods from Nigeria in a boat…putting her life at risk. She said it is an experience she is never ready to go through again, considering the risk involved.

Several discussions have been held between the Nigerian government and other governments in the region, including Ghana, but all such efforts have yielded no positive result. Nigeria has however said it’s set a January 2020 deadline for reopening the border.

For these traders, all they are looking forward to is the border reopening to restore their business to normal.