Business News of Thursday, 17 December 2015
Parliament has given the country’s seaports operator, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the go-ahead to secure a €160million facility to finance additional civil and dredging works at Takoradi Port.
The facility is being sourced by the GPHA from a syndicate of banks with BNP Paribas Fortis NV/SA as lead arranger and lender.
The repayment period for the Buyer’s Credit Facility is 14 years from now, including a stipulated four-year grace period at an interest rate of 6 months Euribor plus 2.2 percent per annum, and an annual commitment, structuring and management fee of 1.7 percent.
Works under this supplementary funding will include an additional 3.5 million cubic metres of dredging works, a 30-hectare land reclamation, the construction of an additional 600-metre quay wall, and dredging the berth to a depth of up to 17 metres.
Sanctioning the loan brings the total amount for ongoing expansion works at the port to €357million, which will be serviced by the GPHA using its own cash inflows.
Chairman of the finance committee of Parliament, James Avedzi, who justified the approval to the house in Accra said: “The Port of Takoradi is currently undergoing some infrastructure development to meet needs of the maritime trade activities, including the oil and gas industry.
“With emerging growth prospects and global competition, the economies of scale will require the use of larger vessels and direct loading facilities to sustain reasonable economic growth.”
The Takoradi Port is gradually becoming the focus of maritime trade activities due largely to the emerging oil and gas cluster of activities, and the ongoing expansion works are geared toward opening the port to meet projected demand.
The port expansion project is expected to provide adequate berthing, mooring, warehousing and large open spaces at the waterfront, and deepen the berths to accommodate larger vessels.
Mr. Avedzi indicated that Takoradi Port offers an excellent opportunity for using the country’s corridor to capture containerised and general cargo transit to the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, given the port proximity to the middle belt.
Deputy Transport Minister Joyce Bawa Mogtari, who briefed the committee on the project necessity, indicated the urgent need for adequate infrastructure at the port as most of the existing facilities have deteriorated beyond their economic service limits.
She said: “The physical marine structures at the ore terminals have failed structurally, and could collapse at any time with huge consequences to the economy. Every day, double-handling of bulk ore manganese, bauxite and clinker, for example, remains unnecessarily expensive; and this is presenting losses rather than gains to the nation.
The minister is convinced that construction of the breakwater and additional facilities will lead to higher potential development interest from private investors and ensure deeper drafts in a safe harbour.
“It is regrettable that some private companies have the desire to invest in physical development to support their business services within the oil and gas services demands, but the GPHA has not been able to secure the necessary procurement of work to provide the needed platform for this invaluable national development direction.
“Preliminary results from feasibility studies and cargo projections indicate positive commercial interest in bankable public private partnership opportunities, especially for subsequent phases of the port development.