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Nigeria risks N40trn foreign investment over delayed Escravos seaport

Nigeria stands the chance of losing $27.29 billion, about N40.14 trillion, direct and indirect foreign investment over the prolonged delay in the take off of…

Nigeria stands the chance of losing $27.29 billion, about N40.14 trillion, direct and indirect foreign investment over the prolonged delay in the take off of the Escravos Seaport Industrial Complex (ESIC) project, in Delta State, by the end of June 2024.

Mercury Maritime Concession Company, (MMCC), in 2019, commenced the construction of the $50bn deep seaport industrial project at Escravos, Delta State, with a view to decongesting the Lagos ports as well as creating employments.

Recall that the project is aimed at developing about 31,000 hectares of Delta State land into a Deep Seaport, Crude oil refinery, Gas Complex, Independent Power Plant (IPP), Airport, Nature Park, etc.

The loss might be incurred as a result of the prolonged delay of the federal and Delta State governments in giving a final approval for the project’s take off.

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The chairman of the Mercury Maritime Concession Company (MMCC), Rear Admiral Andrew Okoja (rtd), whose firm is the concept developer and lead promoter of ESIC project, while giving an update on the project, at a press conference in Lagos, said all investors are ready to commit funds for the commencement of the project.

Okoja noted that the delay in the federal and Delta State governments providing the necessary approvals may see Nigeria missing out on the desired creation of job opportunities for the citizens and stimulating the nation’s economy.

EDIB International of Hong Kong had early this year expressed willingness to invest $27.29bn to develop the ESIC project whose deep seaport will be located in Escravos (Gbaramatu Island/Omadino) Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State; a development to be effected through Joint Venture Partnership (JVP) with a Nigerian firm Mercury Maritime Concession Company Limited (MMCC).

In its first commitment letter dated 19 January 2024, communicated to MMCC through Chief Kwame Springer – the Chairman of EDIB International Ltd, the financing company and their consultancy Blue Dot Wealth Limited, outlined EDIB International group’s risk assessment and requirements for successful funding to be granted, demanding the securing and protection of their investment by a guarantee of the federal government to control the proliferation of Free Trade Zone in the country.

According to Okoja, the project is a development that promises to massively open up Delta State and seven other states, including the FCT, to international investment in trade, commerce and industry.

ESIC project is modelled after the Lekki Deep Seaport/Free Trade Zone (FTZ) to serve the marine/economic interest of the Niger Delta, Eastern and some Northern states of the country, specifically to solve the perennial port congestion problems in Nigeria.

The ESIC deep seaport/Free Trade Zone (FTZ) development is expected to incorporate the development of road, rail and marine connectivity approach to the hinterland destinations in order to optimize cargo flow through to ESIC/ESIC deep seaport, which will see the construction of road from Warri Sapele Expressway linking at a point near Koko junction (45 kilometres), the construction of rail from ESIC seaport to Warri (45 kilometres) to join the existing Warri-Ajaokuta-Itakpe and the construction of Itakpe-Abuja, New 90 kilometres rail construction to terminate at a port district which will host the development of Abuja Dry Port.

This will include the construction of seven Inland/Dry Port that will be serviced by rail and located in Bayelsa State (Nun River), Imo State (Oguta lake), Delta State (Okegbele), Ebu-Inyele Edo/Delta State, Kogi State (Idah) and Dry Port (FCT Abuja).

These states will have equity ownership in ESIC project by virtue of the shareholding status.

The ESIC project is presently supervised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

 

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