Ghana Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

The Adomi Bridge of the N2 over the Volta River.

According to wholevehicles, Ghana had a network of 72,381 kilometers of roads in 2017, of which 14,873 kilometers belong to trunk roads, 15,463 kilometers to urban roads and 42,045 kilometers to feeder roads. Other sources indicate a network of 72,381 kilometers, of which 27 percent (19,543 kilometers) is asphalted.

Ghana’s road network is not particularly extensive, which is partly due to the position of Lake Volta. However, the paved road network is one of the most extensive in West Africa at almost 10,000 kilometers. Three main roads run from the capital Accra, a coastal road to Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, a coastal road to Lomé in Togo, and a route to Kumasi in the interior, which again splits into a route to Côte d’Ivoire and a route via Tamale to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. In the north of Ghana in particular, the road network is limited with fairly large isolated areas. Because of Lake Volta, there are few connections in the east, and the connections that do exist are interrupted by the lake.

In Ghana there are two highways, the 20 kilometer long Accra – Tema Motorway from the capital Accra to Tema. This is a toll road and has a concrete road surface. In addition, the George Walker Bush Motorway forms Accra’s northern bypass. There are also a number of roads with grade separated intersections near the center of Accra. A 2×2 road forms the bypass of the center of Accra. From Accra, a 2×2 road also heads northwest towards Kumasi, which is also sometimes considered a highway. It actually isn’t, but it is one of the better routes in the region.

In the northwest of Accra is the ‘Pokuase Interchange’ of the N6, which opened on July 9, 2021. This is a 4-level stack node, the first node of this type in West Africa. On March 29, 2022, a 700-meter viaduct, known as the ‘Tamale Interchange’, opened in the city of Tamale.

It is striking that Ghana drives on the right, despite having been a British colony, this is relatively rare. Outside of Accra, the road network is not particularly developed, there are no interurban multi-lane roads. There are also 2×2 roads in Kumasi.

List of national routes

The national routes in Ghana.

# No. Route Length
N1 Elubo – Sekondi-Takoradi – Cape Coast – Winneba – Accra – Aflao 540 km
N2 Tema – Hohoe – Nkwanta – Bimbila – Yendi – Kulungulu 640 km
N3 Kpong – Somanya – Koforidua 40 km
N4 Accra – Adenta – Koforidua – Bunso 110 km
N5 Adome – Juapong – Ho 40 km
N6 Accra – Nsawam – Nkawkaw – Kononga – Ejisu – Kumasi 250 km
N7 Sawla – Larabanga – Fufulsu 140 km
N8 Yamoransa – Dunkwa – Kumasi 170 km
N9 Tamale – Yendic 100 km
N10 Kumasi – Tamale – Bolgatana – Paga 610 km
N11 Bolgatana – Bawku – Bimpiela 100 km
N12 Elubo – Sunyani – Wa – Lawra – Hamile 670 km
N13 Lawra – Tumu – Navrongo 180 km
N14 Sakpeigu – Yawgu 120 km
N16 Tumu – Kapulima 20 km
N18 Wa – Heng 80 km
Main road network in Ghana
George Walker Bush Motorway • Accra – Tema MotorwayN1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5 • N6 • N7 • N8 • N9 • N10 • N11 • N12 • N13 • N14 • N16 • N18

Road management

The national road authority is the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA), an agency of the Ministry of Roads and Highways (MRH). The Ghana Highway Authority was established in 1974 and manages 13,367 kilometers of road. The remaining roads are administered by the Department of Feeder Roads and the Department of Urban Roads.

In 1997, the Ghana Road Fund was established, which is financed by fuel excise, tolls and various registration fees and charges at Ghana’s international borders. In the period 1999-2002, the fund amounted to approximately $100 million per year. International donors provided the rest of the road construction funding during that period, including foreign governments, the OPEC Fund, the EU, Japan & the United States. In 2018, road construction spending had reached $570 million.

History

The George Walker Bush Motorway in Accra.

Before 1910 there were no developed roads in Ghana. Road construction started in the early 1920s, but slowed down during the economic depression of the 1930s and stagnated further during World War II. In 1949 Ghana had 1,053 kilometers of tarmac road and 3,332 kilometers of gravel road. The paved road network grew rapidly in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. By 1980, Ghana had a network of 5,419 kilometers of asphalted road. The country therefore had a more modern road network than many other countries in West Africa.

However, after independence in 1960, Ghana did not have an adequate maintenance program. In the 1960s, larger trucks were allowed into Ghana, providing virtually all freight transport in the country. The condition of the road network deteriorated especially during the 1970s and 1980s. Many paved roads had only one top layer over a gravel foundation, so that the bearing capacity of the paved roads was relatively limited. In 1987 40% of trunk roads were in poor condition, 30% in fair condition and 30% in good condition. In the 1980s, however, a start was made with the modernization of the road network, mainly by replacing the existing simple asphalt pavements with concrete and asphalt concrete.

Originally there was a grid of numbered roads. The main roads were called a motorway and were numbered from M1 to M9, with odd numbers running north-south and even numbers east-west. In addition, there was a network of numbered arterial roads from the A10 to A999. A new road numbering system was introduced around 2010, which no longer included the motorway class, because the Ghanaian motorways were not real motorways. National routes, interregional routes and regional routes were introduced in the new system.

In 1985, a 5-year program was introduced to improve the road network. In 2003 it was noted that the condition of the Ghanaian road network has improved substantially since then. Between 1996 and 2002, an average of $200 million a year was spent on road construction, about half of which came from the Ghanaian government and the other half from international donors. Ghana’s road budget at the time was (substantially) higher than many other countries in West Africa. This resulted in a relatively extensive network of paved roads that were in good condition for about 60 percent in 2005.

After 2000, spending on road construction increased from about $200 million per year to nearly $600 million per year. As a result, Ghana was also able to carry out a number of larger road construction projects, including complex projects in Accra and other cities.

Road numbering

Ghana had a road numbering of Trunk, Feeder and Urban roads before 2010, which is however no longer in use, and was probably a remnant of British colonial times. The Trunk Roads had the prefix A. The new numbering system consists of National Roads (N), Regional Roads (R) and Inter-Regional Roads (IR). The latter are international connections that run on the N and R roads. Road numbers are sometimes indicated on the signage. There is little logic in the system, some high numbers are no more than short alternative routes between two cities. Higher numbers sometimes form very long routes through the periphery of Ghana.

Signage

Signage seems to be sparse in Ghana. There are blue signs with white letters.

Ghana Road Network