The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) plans to set up a port infrastructure development fund to support its big ticket projects at the country’s seaports.
The initiative, which is presently at the discussion stage, is to help serve as a counterpart fund for the GPHA to make equity contributions to big ticket projects such as the expansion works at the Tema Port.
“The special fund is to enable GPHA to deal with infrastructure deficit at the ports” the General Manager in charge of Finance, GPHA, Mr Chris Amedor, disclosed at a breakfast meeting by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) last week in Accra.
His comment was also in response to concerns raised by a new PwC report on ports in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The event provided the platform for industry experts to share their insights and analysis on the 2018 PwC Africa Ports Report.
Mr Amedor said presently, a committee had been set up to negotiate with industry players which consisted of the shipping lines, freight forwarders, and stevedore companies to invest in the special fund.
“There is presently a committee in place to discuss with stakeholders in the industry the need to raise funds which will serve as seed capital for the special fund.”
Ongoing port development
Touching on other projects at the ports, he stated that presently, the GPHA, with its partner Meridian Port Service (MPS), was executing the US$1.5 billion port expansion project.
“The project involves the building of a 3.5 kilometre breakwater and an access channel harbouring 16 meters deep-water berths to accommodate larger vessels with sophisticated port handling equipment.”
The Tema Port expansion is designed to provide a world-class harbour infrastructure for the next 100 years.
He said the project had so far reclaimed about 127 hectares of land from the sea for which the new facility would be developed.
“The project is to increase the capacity of the port to three times its current size. The facility, when completed, is expected to provide 3.5 million TUEs in annual throughput capacity to the port.”
Following the discovery of oil in commercial quantity, Mr Amedor stated that the Takoradi Port was presently being positioned to be a hub for oil and gas in the West African sub-region.
“The current deep-water development at Takoradi follows at the discovery offshore oil and gas by Tullow and others and is being developed as an oil and gas logistic centre,” he said.
He noted that an oil and gas free zone oilfields services hub was being established through a dredging backfill to create more land and the intention was to convert Ghana into a hub for the sub-region.
Need for port investment
For his part, a Director with PwC, Dr Andrew Shaw, said port investment requirements were increasingly defined through the impact of global shipping line strategies and port integration into dominant logistic chains.
“Shipping lines require good port infrastructure for efficient ports to remain competitive.”
He said private port operators were driving efficiencies in West African ports to far greater extent than those at the East and Southern Africa ports which were predominantly government-owned and operated.
Touching on the findings, he observed that West Africa was ahead in port competitiveness within sub-Saharan Africa.
West Africa is well ahead in terms of investment in port infrastructure and also in improving efficiencies, and added that for that reason, most of the shipping lines preferred doing business in the sub-region.
The new report, he said, identified that the Tema Port and its counterpart in Abidjan were in keen competition to become a hub within the sub-region.
Using port performance analysis assessment and the fact that each region and port had its own challenges, the report concluded that the African ports generally operated at higher densities than American, European or Asian terminals due to land constraints.
It showed that the terminal capacity utilisation was often constrained by vessel sizes, vessel utilisation and call frequency.
Channel and berth draught
The study also identified that channel and berth draught were exogenous constraints that limited the more efficient use of larger vessels, which would lead to more efficient shipping patterns and the establishment of a greater focus on hub ports.
There are significant opportunities in West Africa to create a hub port to accept very large vessels, and improve equipment and land transport connections, particularly given the number of close smaller ports in the region.
Much of the handling inefficiencies and long container dwell times at SSA ports could be attributed to port management, and customs and associated container clearing processes, rather than poor infrastructure.
Infrastructure tends to be well below global standards, despite most SSA ports having substantial unused design capacity in their infrastructure.-— GB