The adjoining West African countries of Ghana and Burkina Faso have announced an international competitive tender for the construction of a joint 595-kilometer greenfield railway-line project on a build-operate-transfer basis.

The line will start from the port of Tema in Ghana and run north to Ougadougou, the capital of landlocked Burkina Faso. In Ghana, the line passes through Akosombo, Ho, Hohoe, Yendi, Tamale and Paga. In Burkina Faso, the railway will start from Dakola and run along the national highway No. 5 to the country's capital. The invitation for expression of interest did not state what gauge the new line will be, but in Ghana almost the entire existing rail system is narrow gauge.

Construction of the railway line is important to Burkina Faso, which currently relies on Ghana for its export/import trade. Ghana's Ministry of Railways Development and Transport said in an earlier report that lack of a railway linking the country to its northern neighbor "limits trade between the two countries, notwithstanding the mining and commercial potential that both have."

The project would improve the rail corridor's transport and logistics chain and accelerate economic growth and development in both countries, the ministry said.

In 2017, Ghana launched a railway master plan targeting a phased, $21-billion, standard-gauge network totaling 4,007 km. To date, the government has provided no timelines or financing details for the ambitious railway expansion.

Both Ghana and Burkina Faso are members of the he Economic Community of West African States, a regional economic union of fifteen countries. ECOWAS also approved a railway development master plan for 11 member countries to improve interconnectivity and trade among themselves.

Although the railway systems among the ECOWAS nations are not interconnected and have different gauge systems, the African Development Bank (ADB) has previously offered to partner with other lenders in financing measures to standardize the gauges as part of the regional interconnectivity plan.

"Considering that the high costs of railways infrastructure investments and the current low traffic volumes pose considerable challenges in mobilizing the amount of resources needed for West Africa for such investments, the bank will step up its partnership efforts with regional authorities and other stakeholders towards completion of the on-going European Union-financed detailed engineering studies and mobilization of resources for the railways sector," the ADB said earlier.