Lagos — Lekki Deep Sea Port, LDSP, at the Lagos Free Trade Zone, which was moribund for some time, may have hit a rebound with a loan of $629million, about N226 billion, from the China Development Bank, CDB, for the final phase in the construction of the port which is to be Sub-Saharan Africa’s deepest and Nigeria’s first deep seaport.
Apart from the loan four major agreements, namely, Facility Agreement, Sponsor Support Agreement, Completion Guarantee Agreement and the Tripartite Keepwell Agreement, as well as seven security documents were signed between officials of the Bank and the promoters of the port project.
Speaking at the historic ceremony in Lagos, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that the project is another milestone that would contribute greatly to fast-tracking the delivery of the port’s infrastructural development and construction as well as fostering the economic prosperity of the state and the nation as a whole.
“This is a new beginning for us in Lagos. We have achieved another milestone in our efforts to transform the state and accomplish the 21st century economy. As a government, we will do all that is possible to ensure the terms of agreement signed today are delivered”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Earlier in his remarks, Managing Director (Africa), Tolaram Group – promoters of the port, Mr. Haresh Aswani, described the facility agreement as a major step towards the realization of the Lekki Port project by ensuring the availability of the necessary funding required to complete the project.
Aswani noted that the agreement signing is a symbolic milestone in the company’s decade long journey to deliver the world class deep sea port which would change the narrative of Nigeria’s maritime sector and serve as a very important catalyst for economic development and the general well-being of Nigerians.
Aswani solicited for the continued support of the Federal Government and Lagos State Government, especially in the area of road infrastructure enhancement to enable a seamless construction and operation of the port after completion.
“Lagos State has started on these works but we have now reached a stage where the remaining critical roads need to be built and enhanced. We look forward to your continuing support in delivering this for the success of the Port Project and benefit of Lagos State, Nigeria and all Nigerians”, he added.
Similarly, the Chairman, LPLEL, Mr. Biodun Dabiri stated that the facility agreements were fundamental to the successful delivery of the Lekki Deep Sea Port as the transshipment hub of Africa that will inadvertently boost Nigeria’s economy, provide massive direct and indirect employments, generate revenue for the nation and boost the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
Dabiri noted that the facility agreements’ funds when combined with foreign direct investment of over $230 million through equity injection by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the company has reached financial closure and can squarely focus on the successful delivery of the sea port project.
He stated “The impact of the port on the Nigerian economy would be immense, creating over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs and generating about $360billion over the period of the concession. It will also generate the much needed foreign exchange thus boosting the Nation’s GDP”. Furthermore, he stressed that the project is very strategic to the economic development of Lekki Free Zone and would definitely attract huge investments to the zone and Nigeria generally.
He also commended the CDB and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for their sustained commitment to economic growth in Nigeria through investment in port infrastructure such as the Lekki Deep Sea Port.
On his part, the Deputy General Manager, China Development Bank, Mr. Zhang Aijun, explained that the facility agreements demonstrates the willingness of China to continue in its contribution to the development of Nigeria’s economy through the facilitation of the execution of the project adding that the bank considers the project as an opportunity to further expand its business footprints in Nigeria.
“China Development Bank, as the financing party, will provide a long term loan of $629 million to support the construction and operation of the project”, he said.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), a major equity investor and the EPC contractor for the project, Mr. Lin Yichong thanked all the stakeholders for the support which has culminated into a successful negotiation of the financial agreements.
While assuring Nigerians on the delivery of the project based on the agreed schedule, Yichong noted that the company remains absolutely committed to deepening its relationship with the Federal Government of Nigeria and Lagos State Government by helping to develop link roads to the port.
“We want to assure you all that we would do all it takes to deliver this deep sea port within 30 months. We are highly optimistic that the success of this project would open up many sectors of the Nigerian economy making Lagos and indeed Nigeria the transhipment hub destination of many West African markets,” Yichong said.