By Godfrey BIVBERE
Ghanaian government is to award a $2.5 billion contract for the expansion of its ports facilities to attract bigger vessels in a bid to make it the hub for the sub-region.
The contract, which is expected to be completed in 2018, will be twice the present capacity of the port. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), which is handling the project for the government, noted that the project will increase the capacity of the port to handle larger ships and reduce waiting time for vessels.
Paul Asare Ansah, Head of Marketing and Public Relations of the GPHA, pointed out that GPHA has given 18 companies from around the world, a deadline of January 27, 2014, to present technical and financial bids for five stages of expansion at Tema and Takoradi ports.
Capacity for twenty-foot equivalent containers at Tema, which handles about 90 percent of the nation’s traffic, will double to 2 million TEUs a year by 2018, he said. Tema is located 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Accra, the capital.
“It’s our dream to make Ghana the regional hub for shipments and receive really big vessels,” Ansah said. “We need to quickly expand capacity to handle the ever increasing traffic.”
Ghana’s debut as an oil exporter in 2010 boosted demand for imports of machinery, fuel and food. The economy of the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer has grown at an average of 7.3 percent, faster than the average in sub-Saharan Africa, in the past decade, putting pressure on aging infrastructure. Ghana wants to offer an alternative to Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and home to West Africa’s biggest port, as cases of piracy increase in the Gulf of Guinea.
There were 40 attacks of piracy in the first nine months of the year in the Gulf of Guinea, which borders the nations of Ghana, Gabon and Nigeria, oil-producing nations that account for about a third of crude output on the continent. The majority of the attacks were east of Ghana.
“Ships are safe in our waters,” Ansah said. “We need to take advantage of the peace and stability.”
Ghana has already awarded contracts valued at about $470 million for the first stage of expansion at Tema and Takoradi, 218 kilometers west of Accra.
Traffic at Tema rose five-fold to 822,131 TEUs last year from 2000, according to data on the agency’s website. Allowing deeper vessels to enter the port will boost trade revenue by $490 million, according to an African Center for Economic Transformation report.
Projects at Tema will reduce vessels waiting time to enter to one day from three days and include building bulk terminals and facilities to service oil rigs, Ansah said. Land-locked neighbors Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali use the port to export cotton, cashews and other commodities.
Takoradi, handles oil exports from the offshore Jubilee field, operated by London-based Tullow Oil Plc. Output will more than double to 250,000 barrels a day in 2021 from about 102,000 barrels this year, according to the Ghana National Petroleum Corp.
Projects include dredging of channels to allow deeper ships to enter, building a base for oil operations and for the bulk handling of bauxite, manganese and clinker or Portland Cement. Takoradi handled 60,746 TEUs last year, a 48 percent increase from 2003, the earliest available data on the authority’s website.
The cedi has declined 16 percent against the dollar this year, the worst performing currency in West Africa.