New Port in Lagos Will be Chinese-Financed, Chinese-Built

The future Lekki Port (illustration courtesy Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise)

Published Oct 24, 2019 5:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

After years of permitting reviews and delays, the backers of Lagos' future Lekki Deep Sea Port project have signed a $630 million financing agreement with state-owned China Development Bank. The loan will provide Singapore-based developer Tolaram Group and state-owned construction firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) with the funds needed to build the facility. Terms were not disclosed. 

The future Lekki Port will have a water depth of 16.5 meters and two berths of 680 meters in length each. It will have enough room to accommodate container ships of up to 18,000 TEU. Phase 1 capacity will be about 1.2 million TEU per year, rising to 2.5 million TEU in Phase 2. The extra space is expected to take pressure off of Lagos' beleaguered Tin Can Island and Apapa Ports, which are chronically challenged by congestion and access road traffic. 

Lekki Port board chairman Biodun Dabiri said that the new port facility and the adjacent Lekki Free Trade Zone would have a major impact on the Nigerian economy, creating (directly or indirectly) over 200,000 jobs and generating billions in revenue for Lagos State. 

In addition to the funding from China Development Bank, CHEC has committed to an equity investment of $470 million. After the port's completion, CHEC will operate the facility under a 45-year concession agreement. Singaporean processed food company Tolaram Group assembled the funding and concession package, its first foray into the world of infrastructure development, and it will retain a 22.5 percent ownership share. 

Preparatory work for the Lekki Port project is already under way, with workers engaged in making precast concrete blocks for the harbor's breakwaters. The timeline calls for port operations to begin in mid-2022.