STEP Analysis: Economic Factors and Impacts of the Aliens Quit Compliance Order



Alhaji Alhassan Dantata Great grandfather of Aliko Dangote (Africa’s richest man). Probably after being freed from slavery around 1894, Alhassan joined a Gonja bound caravan to see his mother. He purchased some items in Bebeji, he sold half of them on the way and the rest in Accra. He might have hoped his wealthy mother would allow him to live with her and find him work among the Gold Coast Agalawa community. After only a rest of one day, she took him to a Mallam and asked him to stay there until he was ready to return to Bebeji. Alhassan worked harder in Accra than he did in Bebeji. Alhassan Dantata started long distance trading himself. He used the new trade routes to Ibadan and Lagos to develop his network of trading associates. Instead of bringing kola nuts on pack animals, he used steamships to transport them between Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi and Lagos. He was the first to develop this route. This innovation and contact with Europeans helped establish his wealth and future.

Source:  Wikipedia

Cocoa industry:  The introduction of cocoa in the late nineteenth century resulted in unprecedented migration of farmers around Ghana (Hill, 1963). Such migrations led to socio-economic change. According to Addo (1968) migrants influenced socio-economic change by making their skills available where they were

most needed, by bringing new sense of values and new modes of economic behaviour into established enterprises, by introducing new skills into the economic life of the receiving areas, and sometimes by opening up the possibility of profitable investment in the areas where they lived. Addae-Mensah (1983) added migrants’ influence in effecting change in their destinations. He suggested in the case of farmers in Wassa-Amenfi district that, they commanded control over property especially of large farms of cash crops and other foodstuff in the area. Other migrants from the Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Volta, as well as Gas, Akwapims and Fantis in the Sefwi area either owned farm lands bought from the Sefwi chiefs and head of families or worked as share croppers (Adu, 2005).

An example of early tension between Nigerians and local communities:

It  should  be  observed  however  that  agitation  for  deportation  of  “aliens”  or  “strangers”,  as  the  foreign  migrants  were  referred  to  by  Ghanaian  natives,  started  around  the  mid-20th   century.  In  1932,  during  the  cocoa  hold-up crisis, the Nigerian cocoa farmers in Akyem Abuakwa opposed the local cocoa hold-up led by the  king  of  the  town  against  the  European  firms 10 .  This  instigated  a  far-reaching  resolution  of  the  town  at  a  meeting  of  Okyeman  in 1935.  Then,  the  traditional  council  urge d  the  colonial  government  to  ensure  that  “troublemakers” (referring to the migrants) were kept out of Akyem Abuakwa. The resolution reads as follows:

  • Okyeman consider that  it  is  now  time  that  people  from  Nigeria  and  other  places should be made amenable to the customary law s of the various states  in  which  they  reside  and  that  any  act  of  insubordination  on  the  part  of  any  such  strangers  should,  with  the  sanction  of  Government,  be  punished  by    As  a  follow-up  to  the  above  resolution,  local  business  people  in  the  town  formed  the  National  Crusade  for  the  Protection of Ghanaian Enterprise which opposed the  foreign entrepreneurs.

Debatable economic advantage:  In the Ghanaian case, the expulsion ‘had a mild ameliorative effect on the temper of Ghanaians’ and a debatable economic advantage for Ghana (Brydon, 1985). Indeed, Brydon interprets the expulsions in Ghana in adverse terms since, ‘aliens took with them capital, and in addition, a large part of the Ghanaian trading nexus was destroyed’ (Brydon, 1985:564). Following the Order in 1969, the economic policies pursued in the 1970s by the National Redemption Council and the Supreme Military Council (1972-1978) and the frequent changes in government as well as the non-continuity of policies (see Addo, 1981), created an economic downturn in Ghana. According to Dzorgbo (1998:207) the country’s inflation, unemployment and underemployment figures increased; and the national currency devalued. There was a general lack of confidence in the Ghanaian economy.

Migration of Health Professionals:  In  the  particular  case  of  migration  of  health  professionals  (see  Table  2  below),  it  is estimated  that  over  half  of  doctors  trained  in  Ghana  have  migrated. According  to Mensah et al (2005), between 1999 and 2004, the total number of doctors registered in the UK and trained in Ghana, doubled from 143 to 293.3. In addition, there were 40 new   registrations   of   Ghanaian   nurses   in   1998/9   and   by   2003/4   an   estimated cumulative  total  of  1021  had  registered.  The  substantial  decrease  in  2004  in  the number  of  health  workers  who  emigrated  may  be  attributed  to  the  introduction  of  government  interventions    to  improve  the  conditions  of  service  of  health  workers, which    included  increases  in  basic  salaries  and  allowances,  the  introduction  of  the additional  duty  hour  allowance  (ADHA)  for  health  workers  in  1998,  incentive schemes such as housing and car loans,  study leave with pay, the establishment of the Deprived Area Incentive Allowance (DAIA) and the establishment of the College of Physicians  and  Surgeons to provide  and  supervise  post  graduate  medical  training  in Ghana.

Commerce: The result of these was that, in the case of commerce, traders of foreign  origin were well established in market centres of Ghana’s north and in Kumasi by  the beginning of the colonial era.     Labor force in mining sector:  Sutton (1983) corroborates Peil’s assertion and  argues that, with very little from the north of Ghana and virtually none from the  south, much of the labour force in Ghana’s mines in the early twentieth century were  from neighbouring West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria (See  also Beals and Menezes, 1970; Harvey and Brand, 1974).

Other expulsions in the sub-region:  Adepoju (2005:5) provides examples of some West African countries which also expelled nationals of foreign origin including Ivory Coast in 1958 and 1964, Senegal in 1967, Sierra-Leone in 1968 and Nigeria in 1983 and 1985. These examples show that a number of West African countries resorted to expulsion as an option for dealing with immigrants.

Brain Drain:  The   literature   on   international   migration   indicates   extensive   research   on   the emigration  of  labour  namely  skilled  and  unskilled  or  semi-skilled  who  moved  out or  greener  pastures  with  the  economic  downturn  in  the  mid  1960s.  Studies  on international migration also focused on the emigration of skilled professionals in the health and educational sectors for obvious developmental reasons. These movements were  both  within  the  continent  and  to  intercontinental  destinations  of  Europe  and North  America  (Anarfi  et  al.,  2000;  2003;  Owusu,  2000;  Kabki,  2007).  In  some cases,  some  Ghanaians  returned  to  the  countries  in  which  they  had  been  trained  to work,  while  others  who  travelled  initially  for  education  and/or  training  stayed behind after their programme of study for employment (Anarfi et al., 2000; 2003). In the  case  of  health  professionals  leaving  the  country,  many  studies  considering  the causes   and   the   consequences   of   their   movement   and   its   implications   to   the development  of  the  country  have  been  done  (Adepoju,  2002;  Avenorgbo,  2003; Mensah et al., 2005, Bump, 2006; Manuh, 2005).

Severe economic decline:  Another important reason for the expulsion order of 1969  was  the  economic  misfortunes that  befell Ghana. From the late 1960’s through the early 1970’ s, Ghana experienced severe economic decline.

  • Cocoa dependent economy: It should be recalled that the Ghanaian economy was cocoa dependent; providing over 70% of foreign exchange earning s for the country.  However,  since  the  late  1950  up  till  1 970,  the  world  cocoa  price  witnessed  a  continuous  decline,  falling  by  over  75%  as  at    This engendered  an  increase  in  the  cost  of  living   and  import  shortages.  This  was  sequel  to  the  fact  that  when  a  drop  in  the  price  of  cocoa  precipitated  a  financial  crisis  in  1971.
  • Increased prices and massive inflation: Busia’s  government raised prices of goods and increased the  interest rates. He also went ahead to devalue the  currency,  but  all  these  led  to  massive
  • Foreign Debt: The  action  also  precipitated  a  high  foreign  indebtedness  which   got  to  a  record  high  of  600  million  dollars  in
  • Balance of Trade Deficit: Apart  from  this,  a  recurrent  balance  of  trade  deficit  also  led  to  a  balance of payment deficit  which compounded the economic challenges of the
  • Abandon over 8% of the country’s state farms: The decision to abandon over 8% of the country’s state farms not only pushed up prices of food items.
  • Unemployment: The flawed decision to abandon state farms and companies also succeeded in increasing the unemployment rate to 9000 representing a 4% increase of unemployed Ghanaians.

Effects of the 1969 Expulsion of Aliens from Ghana

Indigenous merchants unable to fill the void:  Unfortunately,  when  the  aliens  left,  they  took  with  them  capital and  in  addition;  a  large  part  of  the Ghanaian trading  nexus  was  destroyed. The  emergent  Ghanaian traders  thus  lacked  both  the  skills  and  the  connections  to adequately  carry  on  the  trade.  A  great  vacuum  was  thus  created  in  the  retail  trade  network  and  this  probably accounted  for the scarcity of  household goods in the remote parts of Ghana after the exit of Nigerian traders in particular, who hitherto specialized in the distribution of goods to these areas.

Downturn in cocoa sector:  Another  area  of  the  economy  where  the  adverse  effect  of  the  expulsion  was  strongly  felt  in  the immediate post-expulsion period was the cocoa industry. Cocoa as an export crop is often referred to as the “life-blood”  of  Ghana’s  economy being  the  major  foreign  exchange  earner  for  the  country.  Until  the  late  1950’s, Ghana produced over 50% of the  world’s cocoa output. But since the early part of the 1960’s, Ghana started to lose  the  lead.  For  instance,  during  the  1964/65 crop  year, Ghana’s  cocoa  output  formed  only  38%  of  the world’s total. But by January 1970, Ghana’s production formed only 27% of the total world production. This already battered situation of downward slope in cocoa production became further worsened after the expulsion of aliens.  Since  cocoa  farmers  depended  largely  on  labour  supplied  by  alien  farm  labourers,  the  labour  shortages that followed the expulsion of aliens in 1969 adversely affected Ghana’s cocoa industry. The net effect was that production declined, producer prices plummeted and farm owners ran into losses.

Mining sector:  A replica of the ill-fate that befell cocoa  production  took  place  in  the  mining  industry  too.  With the  expulsion  of  alien  workers,  the  mining industry experienced low production and reduction in their annual income.

Hard Economic times for those who stayed:  As  for  Nigerians  who  were  not  affected  by  the  expulsion  order,  hard  times  awaited  them  in  the  post-expulsion era in Ghana, going by the various legislations that were introduced by the government of Ghana. The two most relevant laws in this direction were the Residence Permits Compliance Order of 1970 (RPCO) and The Ghanaian  Business  Promotion  Act  (GBPA)  No  334  of  1970.  While  the  RPCO  stipulates  that  all  aliens  in Ghana must obtain a permit to be able to reside in the country and even required all aliens to carry their permits on  their  persons  wherever  they  went;  the  GBPA  on  its  own  provides  more  guides  and  control  on  the  role of immigrants  in  the  economic  life  of  Ghana.  Apart  from  the  fact  that  the  Act  reserved  certain  sectors  of  the economy  for  its  nationals,  it  also  stipulates  which  categories  of  enterprise  are  categorically  reserved  for nationals.  For  example,  Article  II of  the  Act  states  that  “no  person  other  than  a  Ghanaian  shall  own or  be  part-owner of any enterprise concerned  with retail or  wholesale trade  where the annual sales  do not exceed 500,000 cedis  (or  equivalent)”.  The  Act  also  itemizes  about  thirty-seven  economic  activities  exclusively  reserved  for nationals,  including  commercial  transport  by  land, bakery,  printing,  beauty  culture,  manufacture  of  cement bricks  and  advertising  and  publicity.  Furthermore,  the  Act  prohibits  aliens  from  trading  in  any  market  or  to engage in petty trading, hawking or selling from a kiosk. Any alien who is operating a business enterprise is also under legal obligation to institute training schemes for Ghanaians.

From  the  provisions  of  these  two  laws  above,  it  is  not  an  overstatement  to  stress  that  Nigerian entrepreneurs  in  Ghana  who  escaped  the  expulsion  order  experienced  commercial  depression  and  hostility  of different  forms.  This  affected  their  traditional  business  of  commodity  distribution  in  two  ways.  The  first challenge was how to raise the huge capital required for business while the second one was the stiff competition they would face with state-owned trading corporations.

Expulsion order was issued at the peak of the harvesting season:  But  more disturbing  was  the  timing  of  the  expulsion  itself. The  order  came  during  the  peak  of  the  harvesting  period  of cocoa seeds. While the cocoa farmers were relishing in the joy of a good harvest for the season, after much hard labour and huge monetary expenses, the order to leave within fourteen days came. To many of these farmers, it was  as  if  their  world  was  crashing. But, they could not  change  the  situation  as  most  of  them  had  no  relevant papers.

Property looted:  Apart from this, Nigerians expelled from Ghana also had their property looted by Ghanaian natives. In the process of enforcing the expulsion order, properties of Nigerians were thrown recklessly outside by both the security agents  and  natives.  Some  of  such  valuable items  like  radio  sets  were  stolen  by  Ghanaian  miscreants, amounting to losses for Nigerians. Related to this was that Nigerian traders not only had a large proportion of their  goods  in  stock  looted,  but  also  lost  their  kiosks  and  market  stalls  to  the  Ghanaian  authorities.  Such markets stalls and  kiosks  were taken over by the Government and  were later allocated to prospective Ghanaian traders.

Houses confiscated or forfeited to government:  But another  huge  loss  came  the  way  of  Nigerians  who  had  erected  houses  in  Ghana.  It should  be recollected  that  the  affluence  of  Nigerian  traders who  had  succeeded  in  building  personal  houses  was  a  major source of the xenophobic feelings against Nigerian migrants in the build-up towards the final expulsion of aliens from  Ghana.  As  expected  therefore,  such  Nigerians  were  in  a  dilemma  regarding  their  houses  when  the expulsion order came. It is disheartening to note that some of these proud house-owners spent all their  fortunes in  making  life  comfortable  for  themselves  and  their  households.  While  some  had  no  plan  of  a  return  journey back home, at least not in the near future, and thereby planning to live a life of comfort and convenience in their old  age  in  Ghana;  some  had  hoped  to  sell  their  houses  when  they  finally  decided  to  return  to  Nigeria. Unfortunately, both categories of house-owners had their hopes dashed. Both of them had to leave their houses behind and forfeited them to government or sell them at ridiculously cheap prices to prospective buyers.

Losses of financial  power:  Apart from loss of property, a majority of Nigerians deported from Ghana in 1969 also suffered losses of economic power. Since majorities were traders, farmers and labourers, their hard-earned incomes were usually kept  in  the  banks  for  safety  reasons.  The  same  applies  to  special  contributions  (ajo) organized  by  Nigerian migrants  as  an  economic  lever,  which  were  kept  in  the  banks  for  security  reasons.  When  the  expulsion  order came,  however,  Nigerian  depositors  were  shocked  to the  marrow  when  most  of  them  rushed  to  the  bank  to withdraw  their  savings/deposits  only  to  be  denied  access  to  their  money.  This  was  because  government  had directed all banks not to honour any withdraw in the excess of two thousand pounds (£2000).

The net effect of this  regulation  was  that  a  majority  of  Nigerians  had  to  lose  their  cash  apart from  their  houses,  goods  in-stock, market  stalls,  kiosks  and  farm-lands  to  government.  It  indeed  amounted  to  a  colossal  loss  for  most  of the migrants.  This  was  even  made  worse  where  such  migrants  had spent  a  good  number  of  years  laboring  to acquire  wealth  in  the  foreign  land.  Some  of  these  migrants  had  to  return  home  empty  handed.

Economic losses:  Expelled  Nigerians  from  Ghana  also  suffered  economic  losses  in  the  form  of  loss  of  property  and economic  power.

Unlawfully confiscation of property:  With  respect  to  loss  of  property,  many  of  those  expelled  to  Nigeria  would  never  be  able  to calculate their losses. This was because on the average, deportees were able to estimate their individual losses at around  eight  thousand  naira  (N8,000).  It  was  indeed  a  traumatic  experience  for  most  of  the  wealthy  Nigerians. For the cocoa farmland owners, their investments of capital, labour and time was lost to the native land- owners who confiscated their cocoa farms. The story of the cocoa farm owners is indeed very pathetic. For instance, a majority  of  them  who  had  spent  quality  time  (up  to about  4  or  5years)  to  tend  their  crops  had  to  lose all  their

investments  in  a  twinkle  of  an  eye.  For  some,  their  farms  have  been  yielding  paltry  produce  for  some  initial years,  and  were  waiting  for  the  bountiful  harvest  in  the  peak  year  when  they  were  expelled.






About Anang Tawiah

About the author :: Anang Tawiah is a New York City based Management Consultant specializing in Investment Risk and Technology Strategy. He continues to guide many Blue chip companies and Governments as a Business and Technology Consultant. Please direct all follow up questions, concerns, request for speaking engagements and presentations regarding my articles and research to my Facebook Page listed below. You can read more of his analysis or reach him for further professional consultations and or guidance at: // Email: // Follow me on Wordpress: // Follow me on Facebook:

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