Shipping solutions: Extensive port upgrades are linked to road and rail improvements


A raft of large-scale port expansions are under way as Ghana looks to establish itself as a centre for West African logistics. These developments are being buttressed by investment in road and rail infrastructure, as part of a drive to lower trans-shipment costs and improve links across local value chains.

Tema Port

Located some 30 km from the capital city Accra, Tema Port serves as Ghana’s main container port and maritime outlet for international transit. At less than half a day, Tema Port offers the lowest anchorage time in the region and serves as the first port of call on Africa’s western coastline, with ports in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon located within a 1000-nautical mile range. (aaronkirman.com) As part of one of the largest public-private partnerships in the country’s history, in 2004 operations at the port were taken over by Meridian Ports Services (MPS), a joint venture between the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Meridian Port Holdings.

In 2016 MPS began execution of the Tema Port Expansion Project (TPEP) as part of an ongoing development master plan initiated by the GPHA. Upon completion, Tema Port will house a 19-metre-deep port access channel, 1.4 km of new quay to house four 16-metre deep container berths and a 4-km-long rubble mound breakwater. At an estimated cost of $1.5bn, the TPEP is planned for completion in two phases. Phase 1A was officially opened to accept vessels in June 2019 following a series of tests by MPS. It included the construction of 700 metres of quay wall, a common user area and offices for the Ghana Revenue Authority. Completion of Phase 1B in March 2020 will add 300 metres of quay to house three container berths with a throughput capacity of 2m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Upon the completion of Phase 2 at the end of 2020, the port will be able to handle some of the world’s largest container vessels, with total throughput capacity of 3.7m TEUs, up from 1m TEUs as of mid-2019. It will also include the provision of a rail container platform to further establish Tema as a regional base with connections along major sea routes to Europe, Asia and South Africa. Since the opening of Phase 1, MPS has reported increased demand for companies seeking to bring larger shipments into Ghana.


In line with Ghana’s broader logistics aims, in August 2019 a $475m expansion project kicked off at Takoradi Port, which serves the hydrocarbons and mining industries, providing an outpost for goods transported from neighbouring countries. Like the TPEP, the Takoradi Port Expansion Project will be carried out in phases, with the first set to come on-line by end-2021. At a cost of $200m, it will involve the construction of a 600-metre quay to house five new berths, and the dredging of a 16-metre-deep basin. Including the second phase, the expansion will extend the quay to 1.5 km and bring cargo capacity to 1m TEUs.

Road & Rail

To support developments at the ports, several initiatives are under way to improve the quality of road and rail infrastructure. This comes as recent industrial developments have increased demand for improvements in road quality to facilitate the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods. In April 2019 a concession agreement was reached between the Ministry of Railway Development and the Ghana European Railway Consortium to construct the $2.2bn Eastern Railway project. The line will run 340 km from Tema Port to Accra and end in Kumasi. Similarly, an agreement with Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro was concluded in April 2019 to construct and rehabilitate roads in 16 regions, with strategically selected routes to support connectivity to bauxite and gold mining regions, and improve road quality to Takoradi Port. Maame Yaa Roberson, team lead at VFS Logistics Worldwide, told OBG that they are optimistic that the expanded ports will support a rise in imports and potentially open up new routes through Ghana. Improvements in road and rail infrastructure, particularly in mining and industrial areas, are expected to sustain these developments.