Lending interagency assistance to TSA colleagues who could not travel due to Covid- 19, an official from U.S. Embassy Accra demonstrates an explosives trace detector in February 2021 to Ghanaian airport security officers as part of an ATA equipment grant. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Passenger air travel from a busy western Africa aviation hub to the United States just became more secure after the recent donation of aviation security screening equipment at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport by the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (ATA).

Embassy Accra delivered an advanced imaging passenger scanner and nine explosives trace detectors to Ghanaian airport officials in February 2021. The equipment was granted as part of the Aviation Security Enhancement Program in Ghana; a program managed by ATA in close coordination with the Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT). U.S. Embassy Accra, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

ATA arranged for engineers from Leidos, the manufacturer of the advanced imaging technology, to travel to Accra to install and commission the equipment, and also provide operator training as required by the grant.

When TSA representatives were unable to travel to Ghana due to Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions, Embassy Accra’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Engineering Services Office stepped in to facilitate training for the airport screeners from the Ghanaian Civil Aviation Authority. After familiarizing himself with the new explosives trace detectors , Security Engineering Officer (SEO) Lukas Fried coordinated with TSA trainers remotely in Washington, D.C. to provide in-person, hands-on support, equipment demonstrations, and moderated question-and-answer sessions.

“The trainee’s enthusiasm for learning the new systems was palpable,” SEO Fried said. “Technology and adaptability allowed us to overcome pandemic-related complications and impart the critical knowledge they will need to keep the skies safe.”

On March 23, U.S. Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan formally presented the screening equipment to Ghanaian authorities.

“The airport security training and equipment program underscores the robust security cooperation between the United States and Ghana,” Ambassador Sullivan said during a ceremony at Kotoka International Airport. In her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan highlighted that the growth of the aviation sector in Ghana has increased the importance of aviation security, screening, and information sharing.

Ghana’s growing aviation industry includes daily flights to New York and Washington, D.C., as well as numerous destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East, and across Africa, making it a notable hub for Africa.

The ATA program is the U.S. government’s premier provider of counterterrorism training and equipment grants to foreign law enforcement partners. As mandated by Congress, ATA has three foreign policy objectives: to build counterterrorism capacity of partner countries; to enhance bilateral relationships; and to increase respect for human rights. The Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism provides ATA with funding and policy guidance, and DS delivers the training and equipment to the foreign partners on the ground.

Security officials at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport undergo U.S. Embassy training on the use of an explosives trace detector in February 2021 donated as part of an ATA equipment grant. (U.S. Department of State photo)
Ghana's Minister of Transport Kwaku Ofori Asiamah tests a body scanner, which is part of aviation security equipment presented to authorities of the Kotoka International Airport on March 23, 2021, as part of an ATA equipment grant. (U.S. Department of State photo)
U.S. Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan presents new aviation security screening equipment to the government of Ghana on March 23, 2021. The equipment was donated as part of an ATA equipment grant. (U.S. Department of State photo)

U.S. Department of State

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