With the government’s stated ambition to build an airport in each of the country’s 10 regions and a renewed commitment to re-establish a national airline, Ghana is positioning itself to become a regional and global air traffic hub. In September 2015 the African Development Bank (AfDB) issued a $120m corporate loan to the Ghana Airports Company (GAC), which has funded a number of recent infrastructure expansion and development projects. This loan is the AfDB’s first private investment in Ghana’s transport sector. Events like the Aerospace and Aviation Exhibition for Africa in October 2017 are also likely to bring further expertise and potential investors to the country’s aviation industry.
The National Airport System Plan, backed by the Ministry of Transport and the GAC, reported that Ghana has seven airports that support commercial flights. According to the Ministry of Aviation, in 2016 Ghana processed 1.75m international passengers and in 2017 it hoped to attract 1.81m. Furthermore, there were roughly 420,000 domestic passengers in 2016, and the government aims to increase this to 491,000 in 2017.
Additional routes are expected to further increase these figures. In March 2017 Air France joined other international carriers, including South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Turkish Airlines and British Airways, in launching direct flights from their hubs to Accra, with a new Paris-Accra route providing three flights per week.
To support anticipated increases in traffic volume, Ghana has undertaken efforts to upgrade its airports. For example, Kotoka International Airport in Accra is receiving a new terminal, which is scheduled for completion in early 2018. According to the GAC, the new terminal will have a 1250-passenger-per-hour and 3500-bag-per-hour capacity. Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city, is in the second phase of upgrades to its international airport, including a runway extension to accommodate larger aircraft, as well as new arrival and departure halls.
The government is also promoting domestic air travel with initial renovation phases completed at various facilities. The first phase of upgrades to the runway and capacity of Ho Airport – located in the Volta Region – was completed at the end of 2016, and further improvements are ongoing. The project is estimated to be worth $25m and the contractor is Amandi, an Accra-based construction firm. In May 2017 Cecilia Dapaah, the minister of aviation, told local press that the government intends to use the airport as a training facility for pilots and crew.
Renovation of Wa Airport in the Upper West Region also continues. The airport was announced to be flight-ready in April 2017, but in June the Ministry of Aviation raised concerns regarding the quality of work performed by the lead contractor, Skill Link. Tamale Airport in the Northern Region also saw the first phase of renovation completed in 2016, including a runway extension and installation of a lighting system to accommodate larger aircraft. The government reportedly aims for this to become a hub for the global exportation of produce from Tamale, Ghana’s northern agricultural base.
Re-establishing a national carrier has been in the works since Ghana International Airlines ended operations in 2010 after taking over Ghana Airways in 2005. Dapaah told local press that the government plans to launch a new airline by 2019. As reported in a document provided to OBG by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Aviation has established a technical committee to review the development of the national airline, which will be established based on public-private partnership legislation.
Working against a common trend, Kotoka International Airport has sparked development in its immediate vicinity. This is now the site of some of the most-sought-after and highest-cost real estate in Accra. If Ghana can replicate this throughout the country, new airports will not only service more passengers and cargo in the air, but also support economic growth on the ground.
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