Busayo Anike: How deep sea ports can develop Niger Delta, boost national economy

By Busayo Anike

Under the New Vision for the Niger Delta region, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed the establishment of Ibaka Deep Sea Port in Akwa Ibom State. The port is expected to boost economic activities in the region.

Up to five Deep Sea Port projects are in works in various part of Nigeria – Lekki, Badagry, Ibaka, Olokola, Ogidgben, Agege – in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ondo/Ogun, Delta and Bayelsa states. Of these locations, Lekki, Badagry and Akwa Ibom are often more reported about; with Lekki being a hive of development and technological advancements for the nation as the Federal Government recently pledged $1.5 Billion dollars into its progression, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stating the project was a step in line to the federal government Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) – and the Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port (IDSP) proposed to project economic advantages beyond its contemporaries currently under construction in other parts in Nigeria, as it is strategically positioned in the Gulf Guinea among up to 19 countries requiring various maritime services.

A deep sea port characterized by its location around a river or water channel that acts as a gateway to a large body of water channel that allows for protected staging and anchoring, or docking, for ships to load and unload consignments. Usually, deep sea ports are built in locations that have direct access to the open waters of the sea/ocean. Of the reported total of more than the 100 sea ports expansion in the world, more than half (up to 75%, as the studies show) are Deep Sea Ports (also known as Deepwater Ports).

The recent evident need for Deep Sea Ports, as stated, is a step towards regrowth of the nation’s economic plans. As the existing ports located in Lagos State, Rivers State, Cross Rivers and Delta state can no longer be solely depended upon. As Nigeria is largest importer and exporter of cargo in the West African region, it would be a reasonable goal to have one of the Deep Sea Ports to become the central hub for west and central African port services. As it is evident that bigger ships contain more cargo than the smaller ships and as companies obtain these bigger ships, a Deep Sea Port is the next logical conclusion.

The advantages a Deep Sea Port provides to a nation as large as Nigeria are numerous. Right of the gate, the construction and maintenance of a Deep Sea Port as large as the projected port in Lekki, Lagos would require thousands of constant workers, thereby providing countless jobs, stable jobs, for citizens both skilled and unskilled. With a targeted 1.5 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) container capacity annually, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the completed project would generate up to 170,000 jobs in the economy; as President Buhari promises the Lekki Deep Sea Port would generate up to $200 billion dollars for the nation. In the global market, a Deep Sea Port would put a nation like Nigeria ever boldly on the map of the world’s business markets. It has been reported that over 100 global companies have begun displaying eager interests in the Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port development. As disclosed by the State Commissioner of Housing and Duties, Akan Okon, up to 75% of paper work leading to actualization of the port have been achieved and cleared. “I am happy to tell you that as of today, the 27th of February, 2018, the bidding is still open, with over 100 companies across the globe displaying interest, with more expected to arrive,” said Akan Okon.

Like adding a train stop to a settlement to attract businesses, tourists and a prosperous population, the deep sea ports would vastly contribute to the growth of a city, a region and a nation. Placing a deep sea port, as opposed to a regular port, would bring in business of immeasurable scales to a community, with job opportunities especially being the selling factor and most importantly curbing youths restiveness.