Ghana is positioning itself to become the transport and aviation hub of West Africa with the Government focusing on upgrading and expanding infrastructure. Ongoing expansion of the air and seaports, modernization of the country’s railway system, and interventions to revive water transport on lake Volta seek to provide a truly multi-modal corridor to serve landlocked countries in the west Africa sub-region and catalyze trade with the rest of the world.
Oversight authority for the sector is handled by four main ministries: The Ministry of Transport supervises maritime activity, while the Ministry of Roads and Highways supervises the road transport network. The Ministry of Aviation supervises air transport activity and the Ministry of Railways has charge over the nation’s railway infrastructure development.
Currently road transport, which is made up of approximately 67,000km of main and secondary roads, is the major carrier in Ghana’s land transport system, currently taking up about 98% of freight and 95% of passenger traffic. Most road commute is provided by private transport including taxis, mini-buses and Intercity coaches. The State Transport Company, Metro Mass Transit and the Bus Rapid Transit System (Ayalolo) are the three providers of public bus transport.
Ghana’s rail system handles less than 2% of passenger and freight volumes. However, a series of large- scale investments are underway to rehabilitate and upgrade railway infrastructure. This is aimed at facilitating movement of large volume freight and passengers internally and within the sub region. An overall rail network of 4,400km has been outlined in the railway Master Plan for development as at 2013. However, works are now ongoing on some 1,394 km identified as priority projects at an estimated cost of $7.8 billion.
Ghana’s Kotoka international Airport is the main port of entry inbound flights. The opening of a new terminal building in 2018 triggered growth in international passenger numbers where passenger throughput crossed the 3 million mark for 2019 compared to 2.3 million passengers in 2018. Domestic flights have equally seen an exponential growth of 76.5% by 2018 following the removal of the 17.5 percent Value Added Tax on domestic airline tickets. Besides the Kotoka International Airport, domestic flight activity is supported by regional airports in Takoradi, Kumasi, Tamale and Ho as well as airstrips in Sunyani and Wa. With plans to make Ghana an aviation hub, several plans are underway to establish facilities such as a maintenance, repair and overhaul center, pilot training schools. Ethiopian Airlines in December 2018 also signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with government to establish a home based carrier to fly the nation’s colors.
For Marine transport, the Tema Port serves as one of the main Port of call on the West African Coastline and Ghana’s main container port and maritime outlet for international transit. An ongoing expansion project through a Build-Operate-Transfer agreement with Meridian Port Services (MPS) will see the Tema Port handle some of the Worlds largest container vessels, with a total capacity of 3.7 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s), up from 1 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s) as of 2019. Similarly, expansion works at the Takoradi port which primarily serves the hydrocarbons and mining industry will see the port capacity increased to 1 million TEU’s. These developments together will see Ghana cement its slot as a regional hub for maritime trade and transshipment.
So far, significant progress has been made with regards to infrastructure in the transport sector. However, in pursuit of becoming an aviation hub the aviation ministry continues to seek for investors in the setup of supporting facilities such as a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility as well as a Cargo and Logistics center at the Tamale airport. The railways sector also holds opportunity for investment in rail infrastructure as government furthers with its railway rehabilitation and development program.