Aviation hub vision draws investors

Ms. Cecilia Dapaah, Aviation Minister
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Domestic and foreign investors have submitted various proposals to the Aviation Ministry to partner government in the development of on-ground aviation infrastructure, in line with the country’s vision to be an air transport hub.

B&FT sources say that a proposed airport in the Western Region, development of the KIA Airport City II, Ho and Tamale Airport City Projects, and the setting up of an aircraft maintenance facility in Tamale are key proposed infrastructure developments that have drawn a lot of investor interest.

Aviation Minister Ms. Cecilia Dapaah, addressing delegates at the just-ended Africa African Air show, noted that: “The Aviation Ministry is inundated with various infrastructure proposals, and they are being carefully considered”.

The Aviation Ministry in June this year started exploring about 10 possible sites in the Western Region suitable for the construction of an airport to serve the growing demand on the Accra-Takoradi route.

The Takoradi Military Airport is currently the only airport in the region, aside from smaller private airstrips used by domestic airlines – Africa World Airlines (AWA) and Starbow – for their Accra-Takoradi-Accra flights.

The growth in mining and oil and gas-oriented businesses in the region has led to an increased passenger throughput between Accra and Takoradi.

Ms. Dapaah notes that: “We expect the construction of an airport in the Western Region to bring investors, boost tourism and create jobs for the people of this region”.

Airports data indicate that Takoradi is the third-busiest domestic destination in the country behind Kumasi and Tamale.

The development of the KIA Airport City Phase II on the parcel of land stretching from the Polo Ground to Airport Shell area in Accra has also attracted a lot of interest, following the success of the Airport City I project.

Phase-I of the project, which is now home to major architectural masterpieces, is one of the most sought-after business districts in the capital. It is, indeed, a reflection of the quantum of foreign investment into Ghana.

The Holiday Inn Hotel, SSNIT Emporium, the Marina Mall, Ibis Style Hotel, the Hilton Hotel, the National Communications Authority (NCA) building, Vodafone and UT towers, Silver Star Towers and the One Airport Square, among others, are some of the major developments in the Airport City One Project. These developments have attracted international attention, gaining airtime on major international media.

The One Airport Square, for instance, is a world-class development that makes use of the environment and is described by experts as one of the best energy-efficient buildings in the country.

Raphael Kuuchi, IATA’s Vice President for Africa, told the B&FT that these developments have placed Ghana on the path to becoming a hub in the sub-region.

“There is one opportunity that Ghana needs to seize, and that opportunity lies in the development of an air transport hub in the West African sub-region.

“We need to have a hub carrier, and I think Ghana has done literally everything that is needed to facilitate aviation business; and the creation of a hub is the next in line,” Mr. Kuuchi said.

 Creation of a home-based carrier

To drive the hub vision of Ghana, government has given ‘policy approval’ for the establishment of a national airline.

This has received expert endorsement, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcoming the decision.

“You cannot create a hub in Ghana without a home-based carrier. We need a strong home-based carrier and I am happy the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said it is on the cards – and hopefully, sooner rather than later, Ghana will have a home-based carrier that is private-sector driven. This will facilitate the growth and connectivity we need in this region.”

By Dominick Andoh l thebftonline.com l Ghana