Despite all the hype, the Tolaram Group, an international private consortium and promoters of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ), has said that even as more investors are indicating interest in the massive developmental project, only four industries have commenced operations in the Zone.
The consortium said so far, it has a combined project value investment of about $150million for the development of the four factories, while it plans to invest more funds as new industries spring up at the facility.
The factories include the TG Arla, manufacturers of Dano Milk; Palm Oil Refinery, producers of power oil; Cereals and Kellogs Production Company and the Insignia Technology Prints.
The Group Managing Director of Tolaram Group, Haresh Aswani, stated this when he received the Singaporean Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Dr Koh Poh Koon, on a visit to the Lagos FTZ.
Specifically, Aswani, who spoke on the sideline of the $1.2billion Lekki deep sea port project, recommitted to its completion by 2020. He said activities would build up in the next three months, while earth moving equipment would be deplored to site in December.
“We are pleased that the minister is visiting at this time because this is when work has actually commenced. So, he’s actually seeing the port project in the Greenfield basis, and we are hoping that in three years’ time when he comes back we would have completed the port project. The port project has started up, you will see activities building up in the next three months, and by December, and we expect full activities to commence at the site. The port would be completed in three years while the free trade zone is ongoing. We have to keep developing as new investors are coming in,” he added.
With a capacity to handle 2.5million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) in its first phase of operations, Aswani further said the country’s largest deep sea port when extended to its second stage, would have the capacity to handle 4.5million TEUs.
Disclosing his purpose of visit to Nigeria, the Singaporean Minister, who indicated interest in the free zone as well as port development, said he brought a trade delegation from Singapore to understand the market potential, and look for opportunities where they can either invest or start business in Nigeria.
According to Koon, this is something interesting for Singapore companies to see, and would hopefully lead to more awareness and excitement for Singaporean companies to explore business opportunities in Nigeria.
“This is my first visit to Nigeria; certainly Nigeria being a big country with huge population presents exciting opportunities for businesses to explore whether in areas of consumer goods, or in terms of service provision. So, I think this is where companies will continue to make efforts to understand the needs of Nigeria’s development and see how best they contribute in terms of expertise to work together with Nigeria in providing some of the needs as well.”
The Lagos Free Trade Zone is being developed as a multi-product and logistics hub for the entire West African Region, which when fully developed, will house a number of petroleum and petrochemical complexes, agri-commodity and other manufacturing industries.