Ghana - 2 Logistics Infrastructure

Logistics Infrastructure Narrative 

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 by far the dominant carrier of freight and passengers in Ghana's land transport system. It carries over 95% of all passenger and freight traffic and reaches most communities, and is classified under three categories of trunk roads, urban roads, and feeder roads. The Ghana Highway Authority, established in 1974 was tasked with developing and maintaining the country's trunk road network totalling 13,367 km, which makes up 33% of Ghana's total road network of 40,186 km.  

Trunk roads in Ghana are classified as National roads, Regional roads, and Inter-regional roads, all of which form the Ghana road network. National roads, designated with the letter N, link all the major population centres in Ghana. Regional roads, designated with the letter R, are a mix of primary and secondary routes, which serve as feeder roads to National roads; while Inter-Regional roads, designated with the prefix IR, connect major settlements across regional borders. 

With respect to this mode of transport, many people prefer to use the public means. Many of the town and cities in the country can be reached using urban buses known as "trotro" or taxis. For inter-regional transport bigger buses are normally used. 

Road transport buses are the main mode of 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 minibuses 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. 

The Ghana road network is estimated at 94,203km, with 27% paved and 73% unpaved. The interventions over the last 6 years have led to a marked improvement of Ghana’s road network to 44% good, 34% fair and 22% poor, that is, a 7% reduction in the proportion of roads in poor condition,”  

The road transportation are the most dominant choice of transportation in Ghana. Road transport infrastructure in Ghana can be used throughout to facilitate the exchange of commodities and enable regular school attendance and fast access to health facilities in Ghana. The intention is to have many of the existing highways tolled and private-sector participation in road construction and ownership. 


The railways network is managed by the “Ghana Railway Company Limited” GRCL, is a public sector organization, under the tutelage of the Ministry of Railways development. 

Ghana's small but economically vital rail network is confined to the southern half of the country. The company operates a network comprising the Western line (Tokaradi, Dunkwa, Awaso & Kumasi), Central line (Huni valley – Kotoku) and Eastern line (Accra, Tema, - Kumasi) with a total track length of 1,300 kilometres. The network has five major branch lines, three of which are on the Western Line and one each on the Eastern and the Central Lines. GRCL is noted for its hauling of Cocoa, Timber, Bauxite and Manganese. Before its deterioration, it was traditionally an important export corridor. Cocoa, Timber and Flour were handled on the Eastern Line through Tema Port, with the Central and Western lines handling these goods for Takoradi Port. Other Commodities conveyed on the network include Cement, Flour and Petroleum products. Freight services are basically the hub and the pivotal link of GRCL which accounts for most of the profits by the company. Currently GRCL is a major carrier of the country’s manganese at Nsuta hauling thousands of tonnes in a day. 

Air Travel: 

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 nine countries in Africa in this category. The others are Senegal, Ethiopia, Cabo Verde, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco. The airport has been recognised as the "Best Airport in Africa" (2-5 Million pax per annum) for 2019, 2020 and 2021 by Airports Council International. 

The airport consists of two passenger terminals, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 serves only domestic flights, while Terminal 3 serves regional, international and long-haul operators. Terminal 1 is presently no longer in use. Terminal 3 has the capacity for large aircraft such as the Airbus A380, the construction officially commenced in March 2016, and it is capable of handling 5 million passengers a year, with an expansion potential of up to 6.5 million. The Terminal 3 handles 1,250 passengers an hour, equipped with three business lounges, large commercial and retail area and six boarding bridges. The terminal opened to passengers in September 2018. 

It handles the highest volume of cargo in the sub-region and has all the requisite safety facilities, recommended practices and security standards.  

Water Transport: 

The Volta Lake was created in the early 1960’s 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 415km from Akosombo 101km north of Accra, to Buipe in northern Ghana, about 200km 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.  

All services are provided by the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) a state-owned company. 

The operations of the Company fall under two main areas: 

North/South operations link the two in-land ports of Akosombo (South) and Buipe (North). The North/South operations involve the transportation of both liquid, solid cargo and passengers. 
Currently with one pusher tug, the ‘MV Buipe with two VLTC petroleum barges and two BOST petroleum barges with total storage capacity of 3200 m3, the company has the capacity of transporting 90,310 m3 (76,800 tonnes) from Akosombo to Buipe, annually if the product were to be available.    

With one pusher tug and three barges which are in good condition supported by appropriate forklift trucks, VLTC has the capacity to transport 2,250 tonnes per week, or approximately 80,000 metric tons of solid cargo annually on the Akosombo to Buipe trip. This can in theory be doubled per year if cargo can be obtained for the Buipe to Akosombo leg. Reviews of previous performance records once again show that the company hardly achieves even 30% of this potential annually due to unavailability of cargo. 

Cement now constitutes almost exclusively the solid cargo transported by the company. Previously, significant quantities of fertilizer and cotton were transported on the northward and southward trips respectively. Due to the decline in cotton farming in the north, this business has been lost entirely.  Most of the business has been lost to transporters from Burkina Faso on their trips to the Tema Port. 

VLTC operates cross ferry services at five (5) areas namely: Adawso (Eastern Region), Yeji (Brono- East Region), Kete-Krachi (Oti Region), Agordeke (Eastern Region) and Dambai (Oti Region). 

The ferry services are mainly regarded as the social responsibility by the Government of Ghana towards communities displaced and cut off from existing road connections after the construction of the Volta Dam and the subsequent creation of the lake. Tariffs charged for the services have therefore never been able to cover direct operational as well as depreciation costs since tariffs set in recent times have been reduced after insistence from the local authorities. 

The company operates five (5) ferry crafts - "MV Millennium Challenge" at Adawso, "MV Nana Mprah Besemuna" at Yeji, "MV Senchi" at Dambai, "MV Damen Ferry" at Agordeke and "MV Freedom and Justice" at Kete-Krachi. There is also one ferry that is currently at the Akosombo Port waiting to be refurbished – “MV Ndewura Jakpa” as well as "MV Akrade" currently docked at Yeji. 

It is a well acknowledged fact that water provides the most cost-effective mode for the transport of goods through the economy of scale it offers compared to other modes of transport. VLTC’s operations on the Volta Lake are therefore more competitively priced compared to road transport which dominates the transport of goods and services. 

The company's price competitiveness is particularly evident in the haulage of bulk cargo fuel and cement from Akosombo to Buipe, 415 kilometres. The freight paid to VLTC for the haulage of fuel to Buipe is normally set and approved by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) at 60 % of the rates approved for Bulk Road vehicles (BRV). The company can transport a minimum of 1.5 million litres weekly with its two (2) fuel barges. Each trip undertaken by VLTC also implies the withdrawal of the equivalent of 50 BRV’s from the country’s roads, leading to less damage to roads and fewer road accidents. 

With respect to the haulage of cement, VLTC currently charges GH¢48.40 per tonne for the trip of 415 km. This compares favourably with what is paid by GHACEM to road transporters for transporting cement for 721 km. In addition, each trip undertaken by VLTC again implies the non-use of the equivalent of 50 articulated road trucks on roads. 

To improve the company's efficiency in the transportation of cement on the North/South route, efforts must be made to obtain cargo for the return trip, i.e., Buipe to Akosombo, without increasing the overall return trip time. Previous efforts in this direction have been largely unsuccessful due to the erratic delivery of the return cargo at Buipe, and its uncoordinated evacuation from Akosombo by customers. This situation often led to overall loss in revenue to the company. To redress this problem, scheduled and well-coordinated deliveries at Buipe, and prompt evacuation from Akosombo, are required. 

VLTC’s operational assets consists of two pusher tugs; Volta Queen and Buipe Queen, and three solid cargo and two petroleum barges that were constructed in 1985-1988, and a combined passenger cum cargo vessel, the Yapei Queen for the North-South operations which was rehabilitated in 1995. The company also operates five (5) ferry crafts; "MV Millennium Challenge" at Adawso, "MV Nana Mprah Besemuna" at Yeji, "MV Senchi" at Dambai, Damen ferry at Agordeke and "MV Freedom and Justice" at Kete-Krachi. There is also one ferry that is currently at the Akosombo Port waiting to be refurbished. 

The Company also has a floating dock for the maintenance and repairs of the vessels. 
The Government through the Ministry of Transport has acquired three (3), 52-seater water buses and a modular ferry to augment the fleet of vessels and expand its route network. 

The state of the equipment is very precarious. The engines on both "MV Buipe Queen" and "MV Volta Queen" are now weak and need to be replaced as soon as possible. 

Despite the best efforts of the technical staff, however, the poor state of the key equipment has impacted negatively on the company’s credibility with major customers. Return trip duration for the "MV Buipe Queen" on the North/South route now averages twenty - one (21) days. Deliveries of cement and petroleum products have therefore frequently fallen behind schedule leading to loss of confidence by main clientele. 






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