The provision of infrastructure and operations in all modes of transport in Ghana are dominated by the state. Except in the case of road transport, the public sector has been heavily involved in operations in all modes and has monopoly over rail and inland water transport.
Road transport is very important to the Ghanaian economy. It is estimated that road transport accounts for 96% of passenger and freight traffic in Ghana and about 97% of passenger miles in the country. Road transport in Ghana may be categorized into 4 main segments, namely urban, express services, rural-urban and rural. The demand for urban passenger transport is mainly by residents commuting to work, school, and other economic, social and leisure activities. Most urban transportation in Ghana is by road and provided by private transport including taxis, mini-buses and state/private-supported bus services. Buses are the main mode of road transport, accounting for about 60% of passenger movement. Taxis account for only 14.5% with the remaining accounted for by private cars. One important trend in road transport (especially inter-city) is that there has been a shift from mini-buses towards medium and large cars with capacities of 30-70 seats. There has been a growing preference for good buses as the sector continues to offer more options to passenger in tons of quality of vehicles used. According to the Ministry of Roads and Transport, as of the end of 2006, Ghana’s road transport infrastructure was made up of 63,122 km of road networks. At that time, the network consisted of 12,786 km of trunk roads, 40,671 km of feeder roads and 9,764 km of urban roads. The road network as of 21 December, 2011 had increased to 13,367 km of trunk roads, 42,100 km of feeder roads and 12,600 km of urban roads. On the whole, traffic densities are low, except in the large cities of Accra and Kumasi, where peak hour densities are relatively high. The intention is to have many of the existing highways tolled and private-sector participation in road construction and ownership.
A triangular rail network (of 950 km) links the three cities of Kumasi in the heart of the country, Takoradi in the west and Accra-Tema in the east. The network connects the main agricultural and mining regions to the ports of Tema and Takoradi. It has mainly served the purpose of hauling minerals, cocoa and timber. Considerable passenger traffic is also carried on the network. There are firm plans by the Government to develop the rail network more extensively to handle up to 60% of solid and liquid bulk cargo haulage between the ports and the interior and /or the landlocked neighbouring countries to the north of Ghana and elsewhere. The government has set out to seek the necessary investment to restore the network, improve speed and axle load capacity and replace worn-out rolling stock. Plans are far advanced to privatize the state-owned Ghana Railways Corporation (GRC) through concession and to provide much greater capacity for rail haulage of containers and petroleum products. The government also has plans to link the suburbs of Accra to the central business area by rail and also link the north to the south to serve the landlocked countries north of Ghana.
The country is at the hub of an extensive international (and national) airline network that connects Ghana to Africa and the rest of the world. Most major international carriers fly regularly to Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra, the main entry point to Ghana by air. This is the result of Ghana’s open skies policy, which frees an air space regulator from the constraints on capacity, frequency, route, structure and other air operational restrictions. In effect, the policy allows the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to operate with minimal restrictions from aviation authorities, except in cases of safety and standards and/or dominant position to distort market conditions. Ghana is working to position herself as the gateway to West Africa. KIA remains the leading and preferred airport in the sub-region, having attained Category One status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit as part of their International Aviation Safety Audit (IASA) programme. As at now, Ghana is one of five countries in sub-Saharan Africa in this category. The others are Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco. It handles the highest volume of cargo in the sub-region and has all the requisite safety facilities, recommended practices and security standards. A rehabilitation programme embarked upon since 1996 has brought about an expansion and refurbishment and upgrading of facilities at the international terminal building, as well as the domestic terminal. These terminals now have significantly increased traveler and cargo capacity. The airport’s runway has been extended to cater to all types of aircraft allowing direct flights from Ghana at maximum take-off weight without the need for technical stops en-route. Another important part of the airport development programme is the Airport City Project. This involves an enclave adjoining the airport, which has been created, serviced and leased to private companies and entrepreneurs who are constructing hotels, shopping malls, entertainment centers, etc. to complement the operations of GCAA.
The Volta Lake was created in the early 1960s by building a dam at Akosombo and flooding the long valley of the River Volta. It is the largest man-made lake in the world stretching 415 km from Akosombo (101 km north of Accra), to Buipe in northern Ghana, about 200 km from Ghana’s border with Burkina Faso. As a waterway, the Volta Lake plays a key role in the “Ghana Corridor” programme by providing a useful and low cost alternative to road and rail transport between the north and the south. Ghana is in an advantageous position, by virtue of her seaports and inland lake transport system, to service the maritime needs of land-locked countries to the north of Ghana. A company, Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) uses a fleet of pusher tugs and assorted barges to provide regular north-south services for general cargo and liquid bulks, and tramping service for local traders. VLTC carries 88,000 tons of cargo annually. Northbound, one of the most important cargoes is diesel oil, which is piped to Akosombo from the Tema Oil Refinery and taken on to final destination (Buipe) by barge. Other cargo includes alumina, sulphate, cement, fertilizer, stores and oil products, all of which are conveyed to Akosombo by truck. Southbound, the barges carry a range of agricultural produce including cassava chips, cotton lint, cottonseed and shea nuts. All these items are trucked south (from Akosombo) to Accra and Tema, from where cottonseeds and shea nuts are exported. VLTC also operates a 300-passenger capacity vessel between Akosombo and Yeji in Northern Ghana (293 km). This vessel is designed to carry cargo as well as passengers.