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Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority: Efficient and Modern Port Facilities

The shipping industry plays a vital role in the Ghanaian economy, with 85% of the county’s trade currently passing through the Port of Tema and Port of Takoradi. Therefore, Ghana’s ports play a vital role in maintaining a steady economy, and thanks to the smooth movement of operations throughout the country’s ports and harbours, it is now a leading trade and logistics hub across West Africa. These smooth operations are made possible by the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA), which was established to oversee the vital port services along the country’s coast and waterways. GPHA’s goal is to provide efficient port facilities which continue to establish Ghana as a vital shipping hub across the entire continent.  

GPHA was established as a statutory corporation under Ghana’s Provisional National Defence Council Law of 1996, to develop, manage and promote maritime operations across all ports in Ghana. However, the port’s origins extend back to the 16th to 18th century, when there were roughly 40 locations across the Gold Coast of Ghana used as landing points. However, by the 1900’s these had been consolidated to just 6 main points, which by the end of the 1940s had been joined by an integrated network of road and rail links which would support the port’s operations going forward. With the introduction of these transport networks, the Takoradi Port was developed as a new hub for regional and international shipping. Then, following the independence of Ghana in 1957, even more, road infrastructure was implemented, and Ghana’s second port ‘Tema’ was constructed.  

In the following years, the port and harbours industry of Ghana saw a vast overhaul with the construction of these two ports, the introduction of a shipyard complex, the construction of accommodation for port workers, the dredging of turning basins and berths, and the development of quays and buildings dedicated for the container terminals. Today, GPHA oversees all these operations with a central focus on developing the infrastructure at Ghana’s ports to ensure that trade can continue to bring vital economic development to the region. 

GPHA’s daily activities encompass a variety of operations from clearance procedures, and cargo delivery systems, to reducing risks and increasing safety, as well as focusing on reducing the environmental impact of all port and harbour operations. To achieve this GPHA has maintained a strong network which brings ship owners and their agents, freight forwarders, cargo handlers, importers, exporters, haulage companies, ship chandlers, terminal operators, warehouse companies and dock operators together, to produce a cohesive network for which customers’ cargo can travel through efficiently.  

Whilst GPHA’s management covers a vast array of ports and harbours spanning the coast and waterways of Ghana, the two prominent ports of the country include the Port of Tema and the Port of Takoradi. The Port of Tema is the largest in the country and covers over 5.5 million square meters (sq m) of land area, just 30 kilometres (km) from the capital of Ghana. Typical calls at the port include those from container vessels, general cargo vessels, tankers, Roll-on/Roll-off vessels, and cruise vessels. The port sees over 1500 vessel calls a year, which are met with the reliable services of GPHA and then passed on through its network of warehouses, transport and haulage companies, freight forwarders, factories, or various related centres. Therefore, GPHA’s operations are the front-facing services which every customer using the port will see first, and so its focus on excellence, efficiency and development is what continues to ensure that customers continue to move cargo through Ghana’s ports and throughout the shipping industry across the West African region.  

The Tema Port is also home to GPHA’s Golden Jubilee Terminal (GJT) which is an inland clearance depot strategically located on the western end of the Port of Tema. The facility includes a container freight station, state warehouse, car park, an open stuffing/unstuffing area, banking services, customs, security, and container storage/delivery services. This terminal allows vessels travelling into Ghana’s ports to pass through customs clearances efficiently and then on to either storage or delivery methods. The Port of Tema is also home to the GPHA Transit Terminal, which extends the Authority’s services beyond Ghana and into Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. The terminal provides a one-stop procedure for clearance so cargo can pass through ports and towards end markets much more quickly. The terminal supports the port’s Reefer Terminal, which has over 1550 reefer plugging points and caters for the inflow and outflow of cargo which needs temperature regulation such as fresh produce and frozen foods.  

The Port of Takoradi’s operations span the oil and gas side of Ghana’s cargo industry and is set on a vision to be a leading port serving West Africa’s lucrative energy industry. Much like the Port of Tema, GHPA works across the Port of Takoradi to provide efficient services to customers by delivering efficient pilotage, towage, mooring/unmooring, berthing, stevedoring, fresh water supply, storage, and warehousing services – to name only a few. Therefore, the port continues to play an increasingly important role in the oil and gas sector as it takes vital energy products entering or leaving the region and aids in their movement to both local and international markets.   

However, the mining industry of Ghana is also a lucrative economy, and so the port also moves manganese, bauxite, clinker, quicklime, containerized cargo, and equipment. All of these operations have allowed GPHA to maintain a strong relationship with the mining industry in Ghana which already brings such vital economic benefits to the country. Therefore, as a vital player in the movement of this type of cargo for the mining industry, the Authority hopes to see equal economic benefits for the maritime industry as it works to take the cargo from these mines and towards international markets via the ports and harbours of the country.  

In January, the most decent development for GPHA’s operations was announced with the commission of two new Damen tugboats. The tugboats are designed to berth any post-Panamax vessel in the hope of fortifying the efficiency of the ports across Ghana. The tug boats will allow GPHA to bring greater efficiency and safety to its maritime activities, whilst speeding up operations with more accessible tug boating services to maintain a steady stream of operations for the prosperity and progress of the nation.  

GPHA has spent the last two decades developing the ports of Ghana, with the implementation of new terminals, and upgraded IT systems, whilst expanding existing port infrastructure. These operations have allowed Ghanaian ports to widen their operational network, which continues to bring increasing numbers of cargo through its ports every year. Therefore, GPHA’s operations unite the maritime industry of Ghana and have helped it to develop key partnerships with the energy, mining, and tourism industries – all of which are collectively helping to boost Ghana’s position as a vital hub for international trade. We look forward to seeing how GPHA continues to develop the ports and harbours of Ghana over the coming years, as it continues to unite the country, reduce the cost and trade and position Ghana as the modern port of choice in West Africa.  

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