Meridian Port Services (MPS) has secured $1 billion to undertake the Tema port expansion project which is billed to transform the harbour into an ultra-modern state-of-the-art port facility in West Africa.
Apart from serving Ghana, the project, valued at US$1.5 billion would expand trade flows and links across West Africa, especially the landlocked countries.
Work on the project is slated to begin on October 1 and expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019.
MPS is a joint venture between the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Meridian Port Holdings Limited, with Bollore Transport and Logistics and APM Terminals as the two main shareholders.
The immediate cash flow need for the port development is $1billion, and MPS has signed a $667 million financing package with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, with its shareholders providing the rest of the funding as fresh equity amounting to $333 million.
MPS is executing the project within the GPHA Master Plan for the development of the Tema Port and building on its success and achievements under the concession agreement granted in 2004, resulting in the massive expansion of the port’s capacity and infrastructure.
It has awarded the marine construction contract to China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), with AECOM Professional Services (Ghana) Limited providing design and procurement management services, prior to the award of construction contracts.
CHEC is a global fortune 500 company with more than 60 branch offices and subsidiaries serving in 80 countries.
The expansion would make it possible for some of the world’s largest container ships to dock at Tema, and improve cargo handling services and capacity, while enhancing the ports competitiveness and position it as a leading maritime hub in the West African sub-region.
The expansion would cover dredging and reclamation of 120 hectares of land from the sea, provide four deep water berths (16 metres) and a 4kilometre breakwater, among other things.
At a press briefing yesterday to announce the signing of the project finance agreement and the awarding of the marine contract, the Director General of GPHA, Mr. Richard A.Y. Anamoo, said “the expansion project takes the dream of our founding father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to the next level and will remain for future generations to benefit from”, adding “the Tema port in conjunction with the Takoradi port will enhance GPHA’s contribution to the economic growth of our sub region.”
He gave assurance that reclamation of land from the sea under the expansion project would not enhance sea erosion as feared by some people along the coast citing environmental impact assessment reports to support his claim.
Mohammed Samara, Chief Executive Officer of MPS, said the project clearly demonstrated the strong commitment of MPS in the drive towards improving Ghana’s competitiveness as a preferred destination for international trade and investment.
He noted that the advantage of bigger ships calling at the port means reduced freight charges, with significant savings and a tremendous benefit to the shipping community of Ghana.
Mr. Samara noted that presently, large vessels that docked at Tema port could carry between 4,500 and 5,000 container 20 foot equivalent units (TEU), but after the expansion, the port would be able to accommodate vessels up to 20, 000 TEU capacity.
Minister of Transport, Fifi Kwetey, commended the GPHA for the efficient manner in which it went about achieving its vision.
He noted that the feat had been made possible through the enabling environment being created by the government.
Chairman of MPS, Alhaji Asuma Banda said the project would generate 5,000 direct jobs.
The IFC Country Manager, Ms Ronke Ogunsulire, said the financing package for the construction of a new port in Tema represented the IFC’s largest port investment and biggest infrastructure mobilisation to date in sub Saharan Africa.
That includes $195 million from IFC’s own account and $472 million from three commercial banks, namely: the Bank of China, the industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Bank as well as Dutch Development Bank, FMO.
IFC is the largest global development institution specialising in private sector investment in emerging markets.
APM Terminals Chief Executive Officer, Kim Fejfer, said Africa accounted for less than 5 per cent of global container trade but the modern Tema port would help link African markets to the global logistics chain and promote new trade opportunities and economic growth.
From Godfred Blay Gibbah, Tema