Ghana finally joins the aviation big league as Terminal 3 begins operations

The much talked about Terminal 3 of the Kotoka International Airport, KIA, Accra has finally opened, raising the profile of the airport to that of Frankfurt, Germany and Oliver Tambo in South Africa. Building of Terminal 3 was initiated by the Ghana Airports Company Limited, GACL, and the company can therefore claim it as its flagship project.

Terminal 3 has the capacity to handle 1,25O passengers an hour – some five million passengers a year, it has six boarding bridges, large commercial and retail areas, three business lounges and purpose-built transit facilities.

The idea of the terminal was conceived and began in 2O14. The sod cutting was jointly performed by past President John Dramani Mahama and his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erogan to signal the commencement of work. Completed in early 2O18, it is now due to be commissioned by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

A shared glory

An interesting part of the story regarding the terminal is the fact that despite the change of administrations, the new government deems it fit that this project comes to fruition. Interestingly this is one project that the politicians are not at each other’s throat with each party claiming to be the originator while the other claims it completed it; a rare occurrence for state-owned projects of this nature.

GACL itself must be commended for embarking on this project: unlike in previous times where state owned enterprises depend on central government to finance their projects. Funds for this commercially viable project were secured by the company, using its own balance sheet and borrowing on commercial terms. Here, Charles Asare, the former Managing Director who commenced it and his successor John Attafuah who completed it must both be applauded for the successful implementation.

Domestic airports

Charles Asare, who was in charge of the company between 2014 and 2017, will be remembered for raising the quality of corporate governance, not just for state owned enterprises, SOEs – known for their poor institutional governance and leadership – but for corporate Ghana in general. Simply put, he raised the bar in this regard; to making such impactful improvements in the infrastructural capacity of Ghana’s airports to handle both aircraft, passengers and their cargo.

His impact can also be seen at the Tamale airport which has been transformed into an international one, ferrying pilgrims for the hajj to Saudi Arabia since 2016. An expanded Kumasi airport, the second busiest airport can now also handle bigger aircraft.

The Wa airstrip has also been expanded into a proper airport and this has positively affected Sunyani airport too as it has also been expanded to handle regular scheduled domestic flights. Again, the Ho airport has been completed and due to be commissioned, which means the city will soon see aircrafts landing there.

Financing for Terminal 3

Financing for Terminal 3 was structured entirely during Charles Asare’s reign from a US$12O loan provided by the African Development Bank, AfDB, with a 15-year tenor and a further US$6OO million loan provided by a consortium of banks led by Ecobank. Both loans were meant for the expansion and upgrade of other parts of the KIA and rehabilitation and upgrade of other airports around the country.

The model that GACL used to secure the loan is being adopted by other SOEs to seek financing for their projects based on their balance sheet. One such company which has adopted this practice is the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC.

To even make matters better, GACL has adopted International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS, to make it compliant with the requirements of the financial markets. Adopting the IFRS has returned the company to consistent profitability courtesy strategies introduced under Charles Asare’s tenure.


Terminal 3 has five levels spread across 45, OOO square meters with parking space for 7OO cars. It has six contact stands for Code E aircraft and two remote stands.

Departure level has 56 check in desks, 3O passport control centres and eight security lanes. At the arrival level it has 24 immigration counters, four e-gate positions [expandable to eight] and four reclaim devices.

Baggage handling has been fully automated as the system is equipped to handle 3,5OO bags an hour at the airport constructed on a design and build basis by Turkish construction company, Mapa Construction MNH Holdings.

For many Ghanaians the completion of KIA’s Terminal 3 is a dream come true.

By Kafui Gale-Zoyiku