• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Why Nigeria may lose $27bn funding for proposed Escravos Seaport

Why Nigeria may lose $27.29bn funding for proposed Escravos Seaport

Nigeria is presently on the verge of losing $27.29 billion in funding for the proposed Escravos Seaport Industrial Complex (ESIC) project in Delta State as the federal and state governments are stalling in granting final approval for the project’s takeoff.

Expressing concern, Rear Admiral Andrew Okoja (rtd), chairman of Mercury Maritime Concession Company (MMCC), developer and lead promoter of the port project, told journalists that the foreign investors are ready to commit funds for the commencement of the port project.

Okoja said the delay in granting the necessary approvals may see Nigeria missing out on the opportunity to create new jobs using the port.

“EDIB International of Hong Kong had expressed willingness to invest $27.29 billion in a deep seaport located in Escravos (Gbaramatu Island/Omadino) Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. The project is to be executed through a Joint Venture Partnership with a Nigerian firm Mercury Maritime Concession Company Limited (MMCC),” Okoja said.

In a commitment letter dated 19/01/2024 and sent to MMCC through Kwame Springer, chairman of EDIB International Ltd, the financing company, and Blue Dot Wealth Limited, the consultant, EDIB requested a guarantee from the Federal Government to protect the investment.

According to Okoja, the project promises to massively open up Delta State and seven other states including FCT – Abuja to international investors in the area of trade, commerce, and industry.

“It is an unsolicited public-private partnership-driven project that is regulated by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) laws and is modeled after the Lekki Deep Seaport and Free Trade Zone to serve the economic interest of the Niger Delta, Eastern, and some Northern States and help decongest Lagos ports,” he said.

EDIB International, he said, only requested presidential confirmation of erstwhile approval of the ESIC project to become the development partner and the project financier.

Pointing out that the time frame given to the developer by foreign investors to secure government approval remains three weeks, Okoja advised the governments to take advantage of the grace period to avoid the diversion of the funds to other African nations.

BusinessDay understands that the protection sought by foreign investors is an approval of 50 years renewable concession agreement on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) for the ESIC deep seaport – Free Trade Zone project; which the Federal Government provisional approval granted to MMCC in November 2020.

Also, in May 2022, the Delta State Government in a provisional approval, expressed willingness to lease 31,000 hectares of land located at Escravos and Omadino to MMCC to host the port project.

“The project incorporates the development of road, rail, and marine connectivity to the hinterland geared towards optimising cargo flow. It will also involve construction of Warri-Sapele Expressway linking at a point near Koko junction,” he said.