Ghana’s main international airport at Kotoka in Accra is struggling to struggling to keep pace with the steep increase in passenger numbers and flights. With greater air traffic expected over the next few years, the government has signed an agreement with the Chinese for the construction of a new international airport in the Accra area.
Ghana’s Ministry of Transport and the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) together with the Ghanaian government are seeking funds from China to construct an international airport at Prampram in the Greater Accra region. The new airport will be constructed by China Airport Civil Construction (CACC), one of the biggest airport construction companies in the world – it has built over 150 airports across the globe.
The Ministry of Transport signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CACC in September 2012 to begin a feasibility study on the new international airport. Following the MoU, a report was submitted to the Economic and Commercial Counsellors’ office of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana for their support and then to the Chinese financial institutions for possible funding for the construction of the new airport.
A team of aviation experts, according to the chief engineer and architect of the Overseas Business Development of CACC Tian Ren, visited the proposed project site to obtain data and relevant information. Consequently, the company has submitted its findings and preliminary design to the Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor.
The airport, according to the Minister, will be designed for an annual passenger throughput of 4.5m, an annual passenger aircraft movement of 33,835, and a peak-hour passenger aircraft movement of 12. CACC, the company responsible, has also made provision for 13 passenger aprons. The airport will also include a terminal area of 45,000 sq metres, cargo throughput of 30,000 tonnes, a cargo warehouse area of 7,000 msq2 and a car park area of 42,000 msq2.
Accra’s Kotoka International Airport currently serves 1,726,051 passengers annually of which 543,379 are domestic and 154,723 transit passengers. It is envisaged that the new airport will serve as an international airport while the Kotoka airport will be used as domestic airport in the future.
Rush for land
Many Ghanaians are applauding the construction of the proposed new airport because the Kotoka International airport is too small to serve the increasing number of planes. Kotoka is in the middle of Accra, surrounded by houses and offices. Airport authorities claim that land belonging to the airfield is being encroached on by people building houses. In 2012, a Nigerian cargo plane crashed, destroying private houses and killing more than 10 people.
However, there are those who say that with the country facing myriad challenges such as health, education, bad roads and low salaries for workers, constructing a new international airport is the wrong priority.
Meanwhile, people in and around Prampram are excited about the prospect of having an airport. Land prices have shot up as investors troop to the area to buy land. Land ownership disputes have escalated in the expectation that the area will develop very fast and attract business and investors.
In addition to Kotoka International Airport, Ghana’s second international is Kumasi airport. There are also two domestic airports in Secondi-Takoradi and Tamale. With the discovery of oil in Ghana and the current economic and democratic stability, many are expected to travel within and without the country for business transactions.
Ghana is in the process of drafting a new Airport Bill for parliamentary approval that is set to improve the aviation industry. Ghana’s aviation industry is vibrant with an average growth rate of 10% and is one of the fastest growing and most competitive in the West Africa sub-region. “There’s great potential in the aviation sector in West Africa. This presents an opportunity for domestic carriers to explore the possibility of operating regional flights,” said Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey (rtd), Director-General of the GCAA. Meanwhile, the Ghana Airports Company continues its rehabilitation of the Kotoka International Airport under the phase III project.
As Ghana looks for funds to construct a second international airport, many are worried that Ghana does not own an airline. Ghana International Airline (GIA), the country’s only airline, went bankrupt in 2007 and has not been revived. With the construction of a new airport, many are looking forward to its possible resuscitation.
China continues to offer financial support to Ghana. Apart from the $3bn loan for oil, China has provided the Ghana Armed Forces with equipment. The Chinese have also built new headquarters for the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Accra and provided the Navy with military speed boats to patrol its maritime boarders to combat pirates.