GOING THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Ghana 2018 | TRANSPORT | REVIEW

Ghana's air transport infrastructure has remained small in recent years but ongoing expansion projects should boost capacity at Kotoka International, allowing it to serve as a regional hub.

Ghana's transport infrastructure is one of the country's largest obstacles to reaching its economic potential. The World Economic Forum ranked the nation's transport infrastructure 106th in the world in its 2016 Global Competitiveness Index, with road and rail quality and density well below international standards. The Ghanaian government has made improving transport options a priority in recent years, launching new projects with the help of international development institutions.

AIR

Ghana's air transport sector is relatively small, with Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal all playing a more significant role in West African aviation. The country has just four commercial airports, all of which are operated by Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL). Kotoka International Airport, located 10km outside of Accra, is the nation's only international terminal, and while not among Africa's largest airports in absolute numbers, it has experienced significant passenger growth in recent years. 2015 saw more than 1.6 million passengers pass through, up from under 700,000 in 2001. This growth has primarily come from international flights; domestic voyages actually dipped slightly in 2015. As Ghana has grown, Kotoka has established ties with major international carries such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Turkish Airlines offering new routes to accommodate increased business traffic; between 2007 and 2014 the number of international carriers operating out of Ghana rose from 15 to 42.

To continue to support passenger growth, GACL began construction on a new terminal in March 2016. This third terminal will boost capacity to 5 million passengers per year, improving efficiency and allowing Kotoka to serve as a regional hub. The expansion project is partially funded by the African Development Bank, which in 2015 approved a USD120-million loan to GACL; the total cost for the expansion is projected to be USD274 million and is expected to open in early 2018. The project has additional expansion potential of up to 6.5 million passengers. Long term, industry leaders expect Ghana to become a central part of West Africa's air travel networks; Airbus has predicted that Kotoka will see more than 10,000 long-haul passengers a day by 2030, putting it in the upper echelon of African airports.

ROAD

Road networks are Ghana's primary means of transportation, accounting for more than 95% of the country's land transportation traffic. Ghana has more than 109,515 km of roads, most of which are concentrated in the southern half of the country. Road infrastructure is split between national trunk roads, regional reads, and inter-regional roads overseen at the local level. At the national level, Ghana's road infrastructure is above average for West Africa, thanks in large part to the government spending 1.5% of GDP on road maintenance and construction, well above regional averages. Still, government and industry leaders recognize that additional investment is needed to ensure that the nation's infrastructure is equipped to handle rising freight and passenger transport volumes. In June 2017, the World Bank agreed to give Ghana a USD150-million in International Development Association credit for transport projects in the underdeveloped northern regions of the country. The Ghanaian government is also developing a number of major roadway projects to strengthen domestic and international links. Expansion of the Tema-Accra road that links Ghana's largest port and capital city is underway, and government officials plan for it to become part of a larger West African coastal highway transport network that will stretch from Ivory Coast to Ghana while also including northern extensions to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

RAIL

Ghana's 950-km rail transport network is almost entirely concentrated in the southern half of the country, connecting Accra to ports in Takoradi and Tema. More recently, however, government leaders have expressed a desire to expand the network and gain the safety and efficiency benefits from a more robust rail system. The Ministry of Railway Development, established in 2008, has proposed a USD10-billion project to restore neglected rail lines and establish new routes that extend up to the north of the country. Preliminary plans have been discussed to privatize the state-owned Ghana Railways Corporation, transferring it to private ownership and operation in an attempt to draw new investment. In the long term, government leaders anticipate the project to bring significant positive touristic and environmental effects. Plans for rail lines from Achimota to Tema and Kotoku to Huni valley are currently undergoing feasibility studies, but these projects are still a ways away from breaking ground. Still, the potential in the sector has drawn significant international attention.