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Lekki Deep Sea Port Could Serve as a Pivot of Local and Regional Development

Africa has relatively few natural harbours that offer shelter and are deep enough to take big vessels. Along the Atlantic coastline of West Africa, for instance, natural harbours exist only at Freetown and Lagos. Consequently, artificial ports have been carved out of lagoon and river ports, which dot the coastline from Morocco to South Africa. Considerable capital and engineering know-how have been applied since the late nineteenth century to make African ports accessible to ocean shipping. Since the 1990s, African countries have engaged in a “ports race” to emerge as the shipping hub for their region. In this context, the recent completion of the $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos, Nigeria, is significant. Lekki is one of Africa’s top six ports. It is Nigeria’s first fully automated port, and its largest. It has more than doubled the capacity of Lagos’ ports, which had remained the same for 25 years. It will accommodate the world’s largest cargo ships and is expected to reduce cargo wait times from over 50 days to two days.