USD629 million Chinese investment gets Lekki Port project moving

Lekki deep sea port artist impression. Credit: Port of Lekki

A USD629 million cash boost from the Chinese Investment Bank is expected to get Nigeria’s Lekki Deep Sea Port project back on track.

The financing agreement has ended a period of uncertainty that has slowed the delivery of the project, which started in 2012. The Nigerian government expects the project to be completed in 30 months, said Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Lekki Port is being built on 90 ha of land at the centre of the Lagos Free Trade Zone, approximately 60 km east of Lagos. It will be the first deep waterport in the West African country.

The loan was secured after the majority shareholder, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), signed a 45-year concessionary agreement with Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLE) to complete the first phase of the project.

This phase comprises two container berths with a total length of 680 m and a depth of 16.5 m. This will give the port the capacity to handle 1.2 million TEU per year, says CHEC chairman Lin Yichong.

Upon completion of the second phase, Lekki Port will have a total of three container berths, which will increase its annual handling capacity to 2.5 million TEU. A dry bulk berth and three liquid berths will also be built.

The 9 km-long and 19 m-deep navigation channel and a 600 m-wide turning basin will be dredged to accommodate fifth-generation containerships with a capacity of up to 18,000 TEU. A 1,500 m breakwater and a 300 m secondary breakwater also form part of the construction programme.

“The loan facility represents a significant milestone, which when combined with foreign direct investment of USD230 million through equity injection by CHEC, will ensure a successful delivery of the seaport and reposition Nigeria as the transshipment hub in sub-Saharan Africa upon the conclusion of the second phase,” said Biodun Dabiri, chairman of Lekki Port’s board of directors.