Ghana - Infrastructure, power, and communications

There are 39,409 kilometers (24,490 miles) of roads, of which 11,653 kilometers (7,241 miles) were paved in 1997. In 1997 there was a 953-kilometer (592-mile) railway network (currently undergoing major rehabilitation) of narrow gauge. The railway connects Accra, Kumasi, and Takoradi, the major mining areas, to the sea ports. The railway network also provides passenger services from the interior of Ghana to the main sea ports at Tema (near Accra) and Takoradi.

The main waterways include the Volta, Ankobra, and Tano Rivers, which provide 168 kilometers (104 miles) of year-round navigation, and Lake Volta, which provides 1,125 kilometers (699 miles) of arterial and feeder waterways. The main ports are at Takoradi and Tema. There were 12 airports in 1999, 6 of which had paved runways.

Growth in electricity production averaged 4.2 percent a year between 1980 and 1996. In 1998 electricity production was 6.206 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), 99.9 percent of which was from hydroelectric sources. In the same year, electricity consumption was 5.437 billion kWh and exports were 400 million kWh, while 65 kWh of electricity were imported. Hydroelectricity is generated at the Akasombo and Kpong power plants, which traditionally supply virtually all of the country's electricity needs, as well as provide exports to Benin and Togo.

Total dependence on hydroelectricity makes Ghana vulnerable to variations in rainfall, and power shortages reached crisis-point in 1998. This has stiffened resolve to provide alternative sources of electric power, including a recently built oil-and gas-fired power station. There are also plans for a number of gas-fired plants, using imported gas and gas from the Tano fields. The Tama oil refinery was being expanded and prepared for privatization in 1997-99. The U.S. Export-Import Bank is to provide guarantees to cover drilling in the Tano off-shore natural gas fields and construction of pipelines, plus loan financing for operations and maintenance work.

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation provides radio services, supplemented by 36 private companies which were granted authorization to operate radios and TV networks in 1999. Broadcasters comprised 3 shortwave, 18 FM radio stations, and 11 television stations in 1999. There were 238 radios, 109 TV sets, and 1.6 PCs per 1,000 people in 1999.

Ghana has a modest telephone system which is Internet accessible, and although many rural communities are not yet connected, expansion of the services is underway. There were 200,000 main lines in use in 1998 and an estimated 30,000 cellular phones in use. Domestically the telephone system comprises a microwave radio relay, and a local wireless loop has also been installed. International communication is through 4 Intelsat satellite earth stations, and a micro-wave radio relay which links to the Panaftel system connecting Ghana to its neighbors.

International direct dialling is available to major cities. Fax facilities are available around the clock in Accra. There are also several privately-owned and operated cellular phone networks with 1 mobile phone per 1,000 people. There were 2 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in 1999.

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