Ghana becoming less attractive place to live and work


I’m ready to stop running our “cupcake” business.  I’m entertaining selling a majority stake in our business and remove myself from day-to-day operations.

These last couple of months have been especially difficult for several reasons.

Tomorrow, August 29, the Supreme Court will decide whether the sitting President won the December 2012 election fairly or not.   Final written arguments for both sides had to be presented on July 31, 2012.  No one is sure what will happen.  Everyone is calling for peace and for both sides to accept the decision of the Supreme Court.

Since contracts signed with the party in power could very well become void if they go out of power, many foreign companies are delaying making investments in Ghana until the decision is made.  Thus, for the last 3-6 months foreign direct investment in the country has been drying up.

With less money in the system, all Ghanaians are watching how they spend their money more closely.

Meanwhile, the ruling party or the NDC, spent heavily in 2012 ahead of the elections to curry favor with various factions.  For instance, Marjorie, one of my staffers, said they “dashed” out small coupe cars to college students. Ghana issued a $750 million bond offering earlier this year to help pay for the budget deficit.  Furthermore, the government is removing subsidies on fuel so prices have risen by 10 percent in a few months. Fuel costs directly impact all other downstream product prices.  Consequently, the average guy on the street feels poorer.

These political and economic headwinds mainly show up in our results in the form of high churn.  Our company is spending on marketing but we are losing many customers every month.  I feel like we are spending to stay in place.

A third reason for wanting to stop is that the country is becoming anti-foreigner.  Earlier this year, there was a crackdown on illegal gold mining in the areas south of Kumasi.  Approximately 4,500 illegal Chinese were deported as of June 2013.  Illegal gold mining has been going on for nearly a decade with the unofficial blessing of the local chiefs in the region. The primary foreign group involved in illegal gold mining are the Chinese.  Since I am ethnically Chinese, I have a heightened sensitivity to how the average Ghanaian views us.

In July, the British government said that all Ghanaians who wish to enter the UK will need to deposit a 3,000 pound bond before arrival.   The new requirement is citizens of high-risk countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Ghana. “They are being targeted because of the high volume of visitor applications and relatively high levels of abuse.”   The move sparked resentment and talk of imposing a similar restriction on UK and European visitors.

Fourth, I feel like a target for local scammers and swindlers.  Every day I feel like people are trying to hustle a few extra cedi from my pocket.  After almost 28 months in the country, I think I’m ready to go somewhere else that is more hospitable.  Like home.

Lastly, I just miss America.  I miss how people have a similar sense of urgency, how words mean something, and how my family would be very close by.

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