As I said before: prices in Ghana are increasing by the day and those who are most affected are the weakest parts of society. Those who work in the formal sector under minimum wage and those who work informal under no minimum wage whatsoever, even more.
Considering the hardship through most of this workers are going every week, every day of the month and 7 days a week to earn a little bit of money is impressive.
Also it makes you wonder how long things will stay like they are. How long it will stay peaceful and how long the poor will keep on releasing their frustration against other poor rather than fighting those who are most responsible for their circumstances (others than themselves).
If you look at the development of the daily minimum wage over the last years and see the increase in prices you may be able to visualize what it means for a single person.
Official minimum wage in Ghana per day:
- 2010: 3,11 GHS
- 2011: 3,73 GHS
- 2012: 4,48 GHS
- 2013: 5,24 GHS
That’s a staggering increase of nearly 70%. But in addition the decline of the Cedi to the dollar and the euro have let to a raise in import prices that are passed on to the consumers. By the end of the year the Ghanaian public will have seen 2-3 raises in fuel prices and a second raise in utility prices. Since February electricity prices went up 79% and Water 52%.
This has negative effect on the transport business. Even Trotro mates are no longer fair to their customers. Charging more or trying to keep the change hoping to make some extra money.
For someone selling water at the roadside, which you see very often, this news are very bad.
Most commodities that are sold at the roadside or in the never-ending traffic are brought in from outside. Coming into town by thousands of small cars and hundreds of trucks every day, increases in transportation costs are directly conveyed on the prices. But communicating this increased prices with your customers is very difficult.
Water prices are fixed. 10 Pesewa for a sachet. There is a new water called Special Ice. Its 15p and its quality is way better. At least the taste.
But if you want to sell water the procedures stay the same.
You buy your water in bulk and add a block of ice to it and thus sell it cold as long the ice lasts.
Or you buy the cold sachets from a water seller who sells them cold from the fridge.
In any case you rely on someone with access to electricity. If prices increase, so do the prices for the cold water. And if they are fixed, the margin of the seller decreases, which in return increases the pressure on the actual street hawker to sell more to even out the margin loss of the boss.
Assuming that you make a 5p profit from one sachet of water, you would still need to sell 105 Sachets of water to get tot the minimum wage level which obviously doesn’t apply for the informal workers on the streets and elsewhere.
(But allegedly this is enough money to have a decent life with. At least according to government.)
The day ends after 12 or more hours of long work. Your feet hurt, your throat is sore and you have that piercing pain in your chest since you stand all day long in the traffic breathing in the fumes of old cars and new alike.
You are tired.
After hard work you see yourself confronted with existential questions. And you look inside your hand and count the coins asking yourself:
Where do I live?
How do I get home?
What do I eat?
How do I pay for my kid’s school fees?
How do you I for medicine?
How do you I for a pension fund? (yes also Ghanaians get old and retire)
How do I afford to buy water, cloth, sanitary goods like soap or condoms?
Does a kid selling water in the traffic also dreams of becoming a pilot or a doctor one day?
Asking itself: Where do I want to be in 10 years?
12 hours work.
5,24 Cedis minimum wage.
beyond my reach.