You will expect that during this period (fourth quarter of an election year) most local printing companies will be making some good profits because most political parties and politicians will be making a lot of demands for their services.
But a visit to Accra New Town road, known to be Ghana’s printing hub, shows this time round the situation is different.
The Accra New Town road has almost every printing company in the country headquartered there.
It is on this stretch of road that scores of printing companies provide all services in printing including offset printing, digital printing, large format printing, souvenirs, t-shirts among others.
Every election year the printing industry and indeed this hub booms with increase in business, but most owners of the companies speaking on Citi Business News new series ‘the Biz of Elections’ which looks at the cost and other related issues connected to elections said the story is different this year .
Political parties cut expenditure on printing
With about seven weeks to Ghana’s General and parliamentary elections, local printing companies tell Citi Business News in previous election years, right from the third quarter through to the final months of an election year, into the first two weeks of the next year, it is their busy period which has been dubbed the cocoa season of the industry.
This is because most political parties and indeed politicians during this period make large printing orders including printing of t-shirts, stickers, posters, car branding, large format printing for bill boards, party paraphernalia among others.
But this year  with barely a few weeks to the election the local printers say ‘you will be lucky to get an order and let alone orders from political parties’.
A production manager at one of the big printing companies located at Accra New Town told Citi Business News this election year has raked in the least gains ever in the history of election years for the company.
‘In 2012 we printed a lot of posters here. Most of the candidates brought their posters to be printed for them unlike this year where I can’t even count more than two that we have printed.
This year it seems most of them are not doing the printing, they are doing more talking than printing’.
Away from New Town to Adabraka where one of the biggest printing firms, Appointed Time Screen Printing is located and the situation is no different.
The company’s Head of Marketing Charles Aidoo told Citi Business News contracts from political parties and politicians have reduced by about 50 percent.
‘Four years ago by August we had printed across board about forty to fifty thousand shirts but as at now as I speak to you I don’t think we are not even close to sixty thousand shirts yet. So that tells you what it’s like the demands are a lower. Let me put it this way an aspirant comes and wants probably a thousand shirts. Two years ago an aspirant would come and want a minimum like two thousand shirts. Currently people will print as low as a hundred pieces. Four years ago it was difficult to get a hundred pieces of shirts printed a minimum you would get like five hundred.’ He said.
Politicians justify cuts in spending
Some politicians who spoke to Citi Business News attributed the drop in the number of orders to lack of funds as well as new styles of campaigning and largely a less vibrant atmosphere which has led to less use of memorabilia.
But checks by Citi Business News reveal there is a reason why most political parties and politicians are reducing their orders and in some cases ditching the local printing companies this time round.
The China factor
Most political parties and politicians in a bid to get cheaper rates and better quality have this time round placed orders for their goods in China.
Leaving local printers who have to deal with high utility rates and taxes bare because their cost of operations means their goods will be more expensive.
Charles Aidoo who confirms the development says Ghanaian printing houses cannot afford to reduce the price of their goods because cost of operations are high in Ghana.
‘Cost of electricity and stuff like that including taxes definitely has an impact on our pricing. So when they look out there they believe that doing it out there is cheaper. Printing ,freighting back into the country is cheaper than we printing it here’.
He adds that in most cases the quality is no different from that from Ghana.
‘So a lot more of the activities in terms of printing we believe went out. If a person decides to go out to China because it is cheaper than maybe they are doing something better that we are not to make their price cheaper there, but there’s no difference in quality.’