Ghana is to finalise the financial arrangements for upgrading Tamale Airport in a bid to create the country’s second international airport.

The new airport, located 658km north of capital Accra, will serve as an alternative to Kotoka International Airport, which is located in Accra, and will operate as a hub for sub-regional flights to reduce pressure and congestion at Kotoka.

Alhaji Collins Dauda, the Ghanaian Minister for Transport, said that international passengers during January to August this year reached over one million, a 16.7% rise on the figure for the same period in 2010, and that domestic passenger numbers rose by 29.6% during the same period.

The airport will also aid the efficient handing of the huge number of passengers that embark on their Hajj pilgrimage.

In addition, the expanded airport will serve the northern belt of the country, which requires an efficient air transport system to boost agriculture and tourism, and will act as a stimulus to the Sahara Accelerated Development Authority project.

The Ghana Government allocated GHC10m ($6.41m) in its 2012 budget for rehabilitation works to be carried out on the runways of Kumasi and Sunyani airports and the landside development at Kotoka airport, which will start in 2012.

Ghana Airports Company will carry out the Kotoka phase III rehabilitation project, which includes reconstructing the taxiway and the main passenger apron, extending the fuel mains, and installing an aeronautical ground lighting system.

The project also includes expanding and refurbishing the Kotoka terminal building and installing aerobridges.

Kotoka’s domestic terminal expansion is 80% complete, and a new landing aid and Doppler VHF omni-directional radio range have been installed to help pilots navigate safely and efficiently without depending on air traffic controllers.