Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority – Keeping Ghana’s Cargo Moving

The Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority was established by the PNDC in 1986 to plan, build, manage and maintain the seaports of Ghana. The organisation manages Ghana’s two main commercial seaports, one in Tema and the other in Takoradi, as well as commercial fishing harbours and dry docks. The Authority is also currently looking into the construction of a new port in Keta, where feasibility studies are being carried out. We learn how Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority is building a trade hub for the region.

The Port of Tema, the largest port in Ghana, is situated on the eastern coast of the country. The port covers over 3.9 million square metres of land and receives an average of over 1,511 vessel calls a year from container vessels, general cargo vessels, tankers, Ro-Ro and cruise vessels among many others.

Positioned within the industrial city of Tema, only 30 kilometres from Ghana’s capital city, the port and its environs serve not only incoming and outgoing ships but also provide a stage for the work of inland clearance depots, warehouses, transport and haulage companies, freight forwarders, and factories. This diverse range of stakeholders allows the port to thrive alongside the Ghanaian economy and neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s second-largest port is the Port of Takoradi, which has been in operation since 1928. The port’s strategic location 225 kilometres to the west of Ghana’s capital makes it a cost-effective route to and from Europe, America and Asia. This port serves Ghana’s northern hinterland and the international trade of the three Sahelian landlocked economies of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Last year it handled 38% of Ghana’s seaborne traffic, 75% of Ghana’s seaborne exports and 17% of Ghana’s seaborne imports., including manganese, bauxite, clinker, wheat, bulk and bagged cocoa, quicklime, containerised cargo, and equipment for the mining and oil/gas industry.

Together these ports account for 85% of Ghana’s trade, facilitating shipping routes and vessel calls to and from all continents through both direct and transhipment services. She noted that Cargo traffic for 2019 was over 27 million tonnes.

“In terms of the location of our ports, we’re centrally-located and it renders an advantage for shipping lines and agents,” explains Esther Gyebi-Donkor, General Manager for Marketing and Corporate Affairs of the Authority. “We have 50 shipping lines and agents with vessel traffic from various continents to and from the Ghanaian ports. We also have various cargo handling infrastructure including the private dedicated container terminals with a capacity of 3.5 million TEU’s.”

The ports’ success is about more than positioning however, with Ghana Ports investing heavily in technology and innovation to ensure they offer efficient, cost-effective service.

“We’ve invested in a lot of technological infrastructures which is helping our operations. For example, Terminal Operating Systems and other automated systems to facilitate paperless clearance,” Gyebi-Donkor says. “We have also done a lot in the area of business innovation. We are streamlining our business and have implemented systems in recent times for seamless operations to run efficiently in the port. We’re still fine-tuning that and reducing the costs of doing business in our ports.”

 Meeting Everyone’s Needs

Managing Ghana’s ports is about more than technology and infrastructure, it’s also about understanding and meeting the needs of the various groups that use it.

“We have a lot of engagement and collaboration with our core stakeholders, which aids in solving issues before there are problems. The cooperation and collaboration we have is a major advantage,” Gyebi-Donkor points out. “Sometimes stakeholders have conflicting policies that may inhibit trade. This becomes a challenge when, while the ports themselves are evolving to meet the needs of a modern trade environment the legislative environment they operate in may still have some catching up to do.

“The laws which govern how we run the ports were established in 1956 and since then the Government has not actually reviewed it, which is challenging, as the industry and environment we are operating in is changing, but the law is the same,” Gyebi-Donkor says.

Talking to Donkor it’s clear she believes the only way to negotiate these challenges is through strong communication and collaboration between the port’s stakeholders.

We are currently renewing our laws to bring in regulations that will help streamline and ensure cohesive operations when it comes to licenses and concessions. We are continuously working with the Port Community to share ideas and manage the perspectives and roles of all these institutions.”

West Africa’s Logistics Hub

“There’s so much positive competition now with transhipment and transit. Our vision is to be the leading trading and logistics hub in West Africa, so this is important to us,” Gyebi-Donkor insists. “We’re working on a lot of improvements to give us the leverage to achieve this goal in the very near future.

By the end of this year, I want to see the new private dedicated container terminal in Tema Port completed, then we would have four berths for the container terminal. We’re also working towards another Ghanaian privately run container terminal in the Takoradi Port. We hope to finish that one this year too.  At the same time, we’re looking forward to the upgrade of the railways to improve our supporting infrastructure.”

Given what the ports have achieved so far, we have every reason to believe they will make this vision a reality.

More like this