Apart from causing the collapse of large sectors of Ghana’s industries and throwing thousands of people from work, the new policies imposed on the government produced a marketplace providing the public with practically no choice. People were compelled to purchase whatever it suited the dealers to import. Long cherished products disappeared to be replaced by cheap copies of doubtful quality.
Tom, an English engineer visiting Tamale in northern Ghana in 1987, was told that the northerners greatly appreciated the British products which they had come to know and trust in colonial times. Similarly, the northerners adored the Raleigh bicycle and the first Land Rover four-wheel-drive automobile. They called these goods’first’ and always asked for them. But these days they couldn’t be purchased new because almost all present imports were from China and India. These nations produced copies of the Lister engine as well as the Raleigh bicycles but the northerners had soon came to discover the difference in quality. That was how the demand for the’original’ began.
Tom said he feared that if the British products were imported these times the rural folks would not be able to afford them, and in any case, the quality wasn’t as great as before. He was told in reply that the regional people would try to pay more for better quality. The Cotton Development Company had recently imported bikes to sell to their workers on easy-payment provisions. Most of the bicycles were from China but a few Raleighs were included. Even though the price was higher, it was the Raleighs which were spoken for first.
Tom’s Ghanaian interlocutor said that he was puzzled by what had happened. However, this market didn’t provide what the people demanded, it supplied what it suited the dealers to import. The people could only buy what was locally available. It was not a free market, it was a slaves’ market.