Nigeria’s Lekki Port has received the $60m first tranche of a $630m loan from the China Development Bank, which its developer hailed as a "major breakthrough" for the transformative project.
It comes as work on the port reached the half-way mark with the completion of the 1,900m main breakwater, reports local news site, The Cable.
Du Ruogang, managing director of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise, the project’s developer, told the Nairametrics business news site that the delivery of the first instalment of the loan was a "major breakthrough" in the company’s aim of opening the deepest port in west Africa before the end of 2022.
The opening date is more optimistic than that given earlier this year by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, who predicted a 2023 opening.
The port is being built by China Harbour, a subsidiary of China Communications. It co-owns Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise along with Singaporean conglomerate Tolaram Group. They are building the port on a finance-build-operate basis, and will run it on a 45-year concession agreement.
Nigerian consultant Louis Berger is the engineer for the project and French logistics company CMA-CMG will be the operator.
The Lekki Port and Free Trade Zone is part of Nigeria’s effort to capture trade in a region with strong growth potential but poor infrastructure. The trend for container ships to become ever larger and heavier has forced ports to compete with ever deeper navigation channels, longer wharves and more sophisticated cranage.
When complete, Lekki will be able to accommodate "ultra large" ships able to transport more than 14,500 containers.
Image: The agreement for the China Development Bank loan was signed in 2019 (Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise)