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Ghana-Map_mediumthumb1.0 Introduction

Ghana is located in the West of Africa, bordered to the east, west and north by Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso respectively. It is bordered in the south by the Gulf of Guinea. Ghana gained independence from British colonial rule in 1957. Following numerous political insurgencies, Ghana is now a democratic state and has remained a stable country for more than two decades.

Recent economic performance has largely averaged 6% per annum.



2.0 Country Snapshot

Total Land Area (000 sq. Km)

238.5 sq. km (World Development indicators, 2009)1

Population (Millions)

23.84  (Population reference Bureau)2

Urban Population (%)
Rural Population

44       (Population reference Bureau)

Gender Development Rank

126     (Human Development Report, 2009)

GDP Growth

6.2%   (World Development indicators, 2009)

GDP per capita , Atlas Method ($)

670     (World Development indicators, 2009)

Population below $1.25 a day (%)

30       (Human Development Report, 2009)

GDP Composition

Agriculture      32%
Industry  26%
Services  42%

(World Development indicators, 2009)

Rural Access Indictor3

44%  (World Bank, 1997)

Transport Expenditure as a % of GDP



3.0 Transport and Development in Context

After a long period of political instability, mass emigration and economic decline in the 1980s, Ghana is finally on the path of economic development with a current GDP growth rate of 6.2% (World Development Indicators, 2009). The economic development strategy is hinged on the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II), a revised version of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy. The overall objective of this strategy is to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2015. Even though the achievement of the MDGs is behind schedule in many countries of the Sub-Saharan African region, Ghana is tipped to be one of the few countries on the path to achieving some of  the goals, particularly that of reducing extreme poverty by half. 

Ghana is basically an agro-based economy and agriculture employs about 60% of the country’s active population. The sector is also a major contributor to GDP even though this is gradually changing. Agriculture which is basically a rural phenomenon is one of the major pillars of the GPRSII. As indicated in the policy document, modernisation of agriculture is ‘the second most important leg of the strategic priorities that have been established under the GPRS II’ (GPRS II, 2005). The sector is considered to have the potential to achieve accelerated growth in a shorter period of time than the first major pillar – human development.

However, one of the major problems that the sector is plagued with is the poor transport system. In response to this, the broad policy of the government is to ensure the provision, expansion and maintenance of all kinds of transport and the provision of an affordable and accessible transport system. This has been highlighted in the National Transport Policy as the development of a transport system which strategically links rural production and processing centres to urban marketing centres.

In line with this, Ghana is shifting from a mode based approach to a policy based approach of transport planning in the country. This has seen an increase in the government’s contribution to transport development especially in the maintenance of roads resulting in an annual increase of 8% of road network size growth (Ministry of Transport and Ghana Statistical Service, 2008).

One of the strategies for improving rural transport in Ghana is the reinstatement of the labour-based methods of road construction and maintenance with the view to improving rural roads and increasing employment opportunities for the rural population. Another strategy is the promotion of intermediate means of transport in rural communities to ensure rapid access to education, health and marketing facilities and also to facilitate social interaction. Efforts have been made to develop and improve inland water transport which connects rural communities through the introduction of private sector participation in the provision of boats and pontoons for both human and cargo transport. Currently water transport is undertaken by Volta Lake Transport Company Limited and privately-owned canoes on the Lake Volta and other major rivers respectively.

However, with increasing urbanisation and the need for urban transport in the country, it is feared that transport development will be overemphasised in urban areas at the expense of rural areas.


4.0 Overview of the Transport Sector

The principal forms of transport in the country are road, rail, water and air. Road transport is by far the dominant carrier of freight and passengers in Ghana’s land transport system. It carries over 95% of all passenger and freight traffic and reaches most communities, including the rural poor.

Railways (2007)*  4  Length of track: 1300 km
  Length of route: 947 km
Road (2007)*   Feeder Roads: 42 010 km
  Urban Roads: 9 764 km
  Trunk Roads: 12 549 km
Airports (2008)** Total: 11
    Paved=8 Unpaved=4
  Over 3,047 m 1 -
  2,438 to 3,047 m 1 -
  1,524 to 2,437 m 3 -
  914 to 1,523 m 2 3
  Under 914m 1 1
Inland waterways (2008)5  Total Length: 1 293km
  Lake Volta provides 1 125km of arterial and feeder waterways.
Volta, Ankobra and Tano rivers provide 168km of perennial navigation for launches and lighters.



5.0 Road Classification System

 Trunk Road

 Feeder Road

 Urban Road


Inter District

Major Arterial



Minor Arterial







Trunk Roads

Trunk roads are classified using socio-economic considerations as follows:


Feeder Road

The functional classification of the feeder road system is as follows:


Urban Road System

The urban road system is classified into four main classes as follows:


6.0 Institutional framework for the sector

Ministry of Transport (
The Ministry of Transport is a government establishment responsible for the formulation, coordination and monitoring of Aviation, Transport and Highway infrastructure policies and programmes for both public and private sectors of the economy.

Ministry of Roads and Highways (
The Ministry of Transport is one of the new ministries created by the Government of Ghana in January 2009 to handle infrastructural development and service delivery for the maritime and Rail Transport sub-sectors and to complement the other modes of transport for socio-economic development.

Department of Feeder Roads ( )
The Department of Feeder Roads exists to ensure the provision of safe all weather accessible feeder roads at optimum cost to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services and to promote socio-economic development, in particular agriculture. The main vision of the department is to ensure that all rural communities in Ghana are provided with access at optimum cost.


7.0 Relevant Rural Transport Programmes

Rural Travel and Transport Program (RTTP)
This is part of an overarching Sub-Saharan African Transport Programme (SSATP) designed to improve transport policies and to strengthen transport management in the region. This was launched in Ghana in October 1999.

Road Sector Development Programme
A road-centred development programme which aims to enhance road construction, road maintenance and road management.

Gender and Rural Transport Initiative
The Gender and Rural Transport Initiative was launched in 1999, as a support program to the Rural Travel and Transport Program (RTTP), a component of the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP).  GRTI’s goal was to mainstream gender in rural transport policies, programs and policies. The outputs of the programme are available at .


8.0 Some Key Documents and Websites

Ghana National Transport Policy accessed on 14/04/2010

The national transport policy sets out a blueprint for the sustainable development of Ghana’s transportation system within the strategic context of a coordinated strategy for growth and poverty reduction and working towards the goal of a middle-income status by 2015.

Ghana Statistical and Analytical Report, 2008 %20Analytical%20Report_Final_Dec08_web.pdf  Accessed on 01/04/2010

Ghana Transport Indicator Database:

Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper



1 From the World Bank database,

2 Available at

3 Percentage of rural people who live within 2 km of an all-season passable road as a proportion of the ‘total rural population’

4*Ghana Transport Statistical and Analytical report, 2008
** CIA Fact book, as viewed on

5  as viewed on 07/04/2010