HIGH WATER MARK

Nigeria 2015 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: THE LEKKI DEEP SEA PORT

The development of Nigeria's maritime industry will expedite overall economic development and its strategic regional role.

As the nation gears up to become one of the 20-largest economies in the world by 2020, trade volumes are growing exponentially, and observers have noted a significant gap between these growing volumes and the process capacity of Nigerian ports. Today, one has but to drive down to Apapa, the vibrant port of Lagos, to witness the congestion in the port infrastructure first hand, and to get a new definition of the concept of gridlock. This has led the Federal Government to prospect ways to alleviate the pressure on Nigeria's ports, and expand the current capacity in order to deal with the prospected growth in trade volumes in subsequent years. As a result, the Federal Government approved the construction of the Lekki Deep Sea Port in December 2013.

Strategically located inside the Lekki Free Zone approximately 60 kilometers east of Lagos, the port is comprised of a state-of-the-art Container Terminal, a Liquid Bulk Terminal, and a Dry Bulk Terminal, making it a multi-purpose port with the best infrastructure and terminal services. Set to be fully operational in 2018, the port has been designed to become the deepest port in West Africa with a 14 meter to 16.5 meter draft and a turning circle diameter of 670 meters. It will be capable of handling the largest vessels in the world, and is set to further strengthen Nigeria's position as a maritime hub for the whole of West Africa. The Container Terminal's 1,200 meter long quay and container yard of 13,700 grounds slots will boost a 2.5 million TEU annual capacity, which will considerably reduce Nigeria's projected capacity deficit. The Dry Bulk Terminal is designed to handle two million tons of dry bulk per year, and will be able to accommodate vessels up to the size of 75,000 deadweight tonnage, while the Liquid Bulk Terminal will initially service vessels with a deadweight tonnage of up to 45,000.

Furthermore, the construction and operation of the port will see the creation of 163,000 new jobs, whilst the project will generate a total of $379 billion over the entire concession period of 25 years, adding $200 billion to the government's revenue in the process. The project will also boost the industrialization of its immediate environment, and will be a key driver of the growth of the Lekki Free Zone.

The costs of the project have been estimated at $1.354 billion, and will be funded through a Public-Private Partnership between the Federal Government, which is being represented by the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Lagos State Government, and private investors. As the largest private investment in infrastructure in Nigeria, the project is set to revolutionize Nigeria's maritime industry and spur unprecedented economic growth for Nigerians. Moreover, the success of the Lekki Deep Sea Port will serve as a testament to the strengths and opportunities of the PPP-model, and will be exemplary of the way in which this model can serve as a driver for the development of Nigeria.