The Atlantic waters off the west African coast teem with oil rigs
and support vessels, most a very long way from home. Ghana, a new
entrant to the energy game, wants to provide them with a closer port of
Like many resource dependent countries, Ghana wants to grow its
economy beyond raw material exports – and hopes a new port and rig
repair depot will help it to do just that.
This year, groundbreaking begins on the Atuabo Free Port, a US$1
billion facility on the western side of Ghana’s coastline. Here, oil
rigs will be towed to be serviced, saving the almost 10,000 nautical
mile journey to the Far East where the work is usually carried out.
Atuabo will also serve as a free trade port for energy-related industry.
The project is being driven by Lonrho, a UK-based corporation that
has invested in African projects for more than a century. Lonrho and its
investment partners will hold 55 percent of the venture, with another
35 percent taken up by Ghanaian investors; the government will have a
stake of 10 percent.
In April, the China Harbour Engineering Company was awarded a $600
million contract for the project, which is sited 326 kilometres west of
Ghana’s capital, Accra, and just 100km west of Takoradi, the centre of
the country’s emerging oil industry.
Dedicated free trade ports are something of a fashion among
developing economies which see them as a way to encourage investment.