Ghana took a giant step at establishing Accra as a major hub for air freight in West Africa when President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the Ghana Air Cargo Centre (GACC ) at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA ) last Monday night.
A joint venture between Air Ghana Limited — a Ghanaian airline and logistics company — and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), the multi-million-dollar cargo facility, which sits on a 20,000 square metre space, is expected to address the infrastructural, capacity and operational challenges of air cargo handling at the KIA.
With the inauguration of the state-of-the-art centre, the KIA will be able to increase its cargo handling capacity from 50,000 tonnes annually to more than 70,000 tonnes annually.
The facility has a transit area where large aircraft can unload freight for division into smaller batches and onward shipment to smaller freight centres in West and Central Africa.
Among the other facilities are two large cold stores, a bullion store, X-ray scanners and 24-hour CCTV cameras.
For Ghanaian exporters, especially those who are into the export of raw agricultural produce such as mangoes and pineapples, the increase in air freight capacity and faster cargo services will boost their businesses.
Swissport Ghana, a joint venture company between Swissport International, the world’s leading provider of ground and cargo handling services for the aviation industry, and the GACC will manage the centre.
President Mahama said the centre was yet another testimony of the systematic growth of the aviation industry in Ghana.
The centre, he stated, cemented Ghana as the aviation hub of West Africa and that the operations of the facility would have a positive impact on the local economy.
Touching on the expansion projects underway at some of the country's airports, he said such initiatives would further boost domestic air travel and mentioned the government's intention to bring back the national carrier, Ghana Airways.
President Mahama noted with satisfaction that the centre would be a major source of direct and indirect employment for the youth.
The Managing Director of the GACC, Mr Christian Zweifel, said the new facility made the GACC not just the best cargo facility in West Africa "but definitely the best in Africa and arguably one of the best in the world".
He said his outfit was proud to partner Swissport in the project, noting that the partnership had resulted in many international integrator and logistic companies already considering moving their operations to Ghana.
"This will no doubt create hundreds of new jobs for Ghanaians and boost the economy," he said, adding that the construction phase of the centre provided jobs for 650 Ghanaians.
He urged local farmers to expand their export capacity, as the centre was ready to provide reliable air cargo transport for their produce to European markets.
He commended the President for his efforts towards the realisation of the project, saying that it reinforced the government’s commitment to the development of the private sector.