Nigeria bets on Chinese-funded port to drive economic growth

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has marked the opening of a $1.5 billion, Chinese-funded deep seaport in the commercial hub of Lagos that authorities

hope will help grow the West African nation's ailing economy. The Lekki Deep Sea Port is one of the biggest in West Africa and will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in

addition to easing cargo congestion that costs billions of dollars in annual revenue, Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Monday. The port — whose container terminal is able

to handle at least 2.5 million 20-foot standard containers per year — will be operated as a joint venture between the Nigerian government, Lagos state, Singapore-based Tolaram

Group and state-owned China Harbor Engineering Company. Both foreign companies own a majority stake of 75% in the project. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but growth has

been stalled for many years because of poor infrastructure and mismanagement. Although it has six major seaports, more than 80% of the country's imports are handled by just two of

the ports in Lagos, where congestion has led to a massive loss in revenue as cargoes are often diverted to other West African nations. Authorities say the new deep seaport

on the eastern edge of Lagos would divert traffic from congested ports and shore up earnings, with expected economic benefits of more than $360 billion. Experts, however,

argue it would make a “minimal difference” if existing pitfalls are not removed, including ensuring connections between ports and inland areas.