The government of Nigeria has officially approved the outline business case for the Bakassi Deep Seaport, to be located in Cross River State near the border with Cameroon.
However, the project, which is planned near the city of Calabar, cannot begin until investors are found, Cross River State procurement officials said.
Bakassi would be Nigeria’s second port after Apapa at Lagos, and would become the maritime gateway for the country’s landlocked northeast.
With a depth of 20m, the port would be able to handle much larger vessels than any other in the country.
Officials are presently looking for investors for a build, operate, transfer deal.
It is expected to cost between $1.7bn and $2bn, according to Cross River State’s Debt Review and Project Development Commission. Its chairman, Chris Agara, said the port would be of "immense economic benefit" to the state and the country, and that his commission now had the authority to seek funding, reports Nigerian newspaper The Guardian.
"Cross River State doesn’t have the money, because this port is going to cost about $1.7bn to $2bn to develop," Agara said.
"Just the port alone, and the state does not have that kind of money. But with what we have done now, we will get people who will come to invest because they know the viability of having this port here."
According to Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade, the African Development Bank has promised to support the construction of the port and the proposed 275km "superhighway", which will connect Bakassi port to northern Nigeria.
In April, China Harbour Engineering was named as a core backer of the project, and in August, Governor Ben Ayade said the company had completed the concept design for the scheme.
Image: Cleared land along the 260km corridor leading to Bakassi (Heinrich Boll Foundation)