Interview: Kwaku Ofori Asiamah

How would you assess Ghana’s potential as a major aviation centre within the subregion?

KWAKU OFORI ASIAMAH: The recent expansion of Tamale Airport, the ongoing expansion of Kumasi Airport, and supporting infrastructure such as new terminal buildings and runway extensions have created significant growth opportunities in the sector, which could help Ghana become an aviation centre for the subregion. The industry has made a strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with domestic passenger traffic above pre-pandemic levels, indicating robust, sustained growth.

To make the movement of people, goods and services more efficient, as well as to promote tourism, a new airport is set to be developed in either the Central Region or Western Region, or straddling the two. Ghana’s location offers a geographical advantage as a transit centre for air traffic, and its domestic stability offers a safe, secure environment for aviation operations. This makes the country an appealing destination for airlines and investors seeking to establish a strong presence in the West African aviation market.

Which investment priorities is Ghana focused on to improve the transport sector?

ASIAMAH: The current market outlook and investment priorities in the sector are geared towards the infrastructure necessary to enhance service delivery; improve access to jobs, education and health care; and foster industrial growth. Investment in infrastructure – particularly roads, airports, maritime and inland waterways, and railways – is crucial. Current priority projects include a new airport in Komenda, the Airport City II project and a deepwater port in Keta.

Additionally, efforts are being made to enhance public transport, digitalise and automate various services, and electrify the public transport fleet. There has been a notable rebound in aviation following the pandemic, and the increasing popularity of domestic air travel adds to its appeal. As there are only two domestic airlines, the government is looking to facilitate the entry of additional players into the market. This support could include encouraging investment in existing airlines or establishing new operators. The government is also actively seeking to establish a new national airline.

In what ways can the private sector help bridge the transport infrastructure gap?

ASIAMAH: Although the private sector is expected to play a role in building an efficient, cost-effective transport system, historically the responsibility for funding such infrastructure has fallen on the government. Fortunately, the regulatory frameworks needed for private sector participation have been established, including public-private partnership and public investment management regulations, which have created a stable investment environment. Investors must therefore assess projects with a long-term perspective, taking into account factors such as development potential, risk management and sustainability. Additionally, it is crucial to establish a mechanism to effectively communicate a programme of action that addresses the existing gaps.

What role can technology play in the modernisation of transport systems and services?

ASIAMAH: Work is ongoing to develop supportive systems for implementing ICT to facilitate the sector’s digital transformation. Ultimately, seamless data collection and processing can enhance the reliability of services, presenting opportunities to surpass existing legacy technologies and practices. In addition, implementing intelligent transport systems and artificial intelligence, as well as other digital solutions to enhance efficiency has been observed in various contexts, contributing to enhanced service delivery and other outcomes. These initiatives are establishing the framework to modernise the transport sector. For example, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority has deployed most of its services online and is on course to automate further.