Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base: a sustainable development hub for West Africa

By Olivia Minnock

Dr. Amy Jadesimi, CEO and Managing Director of LADOL, discusses what services are available for business in the Nigerian free industrial zone and how this can contribute to the African economy and to the world.

Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, known as LADOL, is an industrial free zone, which not only provides much-needed facilities for businesses in industries from oil and gas to manufacturing, but also contributes to the economies of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

With Nigeria tipped to be Africa’s largest economy as well as the world’s third most populous country by 2050, LADOL is attracting business due to its prime location and fully managed services that make setting up shop a breeze on the offshore base.

CEO and Managing Director Dr. Amy Jadesimi is passionate about the impact such investment can have on a localised scale and, since taking over the leadership of LADOL in 2009, has enjoyed managing a wide range of resources for industry.

Working under pressure is second nature to Jadesimi, since she initially studied medicine at Oxford University before being given the option to work for Goldman Sachs or carry on as a surgeon. “I went to work at Goldman and enjoyed it so I ended up staying for three years,” she recalls. Jadesimi then attended business school with a view to returning to the finance giant, but decided to travel to Nigeria instead. “I’m from Nigeria, but I didn’t grow up here, so I wanted to come back for a few months and see what the environment was like.”

Jadesimi then got involved with LADOL. “In 2004, construction was just starting in the free zone and I got stuck in immediately with fundraising and the financial side… over time, I got more involved in the company.” By 2009, Jadesimi had taken over as Managing Director. “It’s been a really great experience. I feel very privileged to be involved in a project like this with so much work satisfaction. It’s a huge challenge – there are many different things I take care of, but I enjoy that, especially as I’m able to communicate with so many different kinds of people.

“I developed the ability to be able to tell when something is wrong and I think any managing director, especially in a company like LADOL, knows it’s important to see problems before working together to find a solution. A lot of management in a high-growth, low income country is about being a self-starter,” she adds. “On the other hand, the impact you can have here in Nigeria is second to none. The opportunities you have to leapfrog and to create solutions that are best in class is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

Impact of LADOL

LADOL is making a difference not just in Nigeria, but to an entire region and industry. “LADOL is really changing the way oil and gas gets delivered, and now we’re hoping to make the same impact on the way fabrication and engineering is done in the sector, while putting Nigeria on the path to being a hub for those factories in Africa.”

LADOL is a sustainable industrial free zone, which provides a plethora of facilities for the sector. “From an industrial perspective, we began by increasing the level of local industrialisation in the biggest industry in Nigeria, which is oil and gas,” Jadesimi explains. LADOL’s logistics base serves a range of companies in this sector and is now developing relationships with other sectors such as agriculture. LADOL is also working to halve the cost of offshore logistics support for the oil and gas industry, having built a logistics base which is fully integrated with specialised storage equipment. It supplies all services as base developer, from workshops and warehouses to hotels and office space.

“When the price of oil fell a couple of years ago, there was a real need for our facilities,” Jadesimi recalls. “Indeed, we’ve now contracted with the biggest offshore operators in West Africa for them to get their logistics services from us. This is partly because of our location and partly because we’ve built this modern, 24/7, fully-integrated facility.”

A hub for West Africa

“The Nigerian market is very unusual because you have so many untapped opportunities to create tremendous cost savings and therefore generate tremendous local and international work,” explains Jadesimi, adding that energy companies were attracted not only by cost savings, but by the way these are imparted into local contracts.

For LADOL, being 100% indigenous to Nigeria is important and means that whatever investment the free zone receives, the local economy benefits over and over again. “We offer the highest levels of local Nigerian contracts, and all that means for oil companies is even more cost savings. Anywhere you have real local contracts, locals providing you with the services at the quality and reliability you require, it’s actually a lot less expensive than getting those same services from outside the country.”

In addition, LADOL’s shipyard has made a tremendous contribution to the local economy. “We planned to have heavy industries operating in LADOL from inception, so we needed a facility that could support the highest crane capacity in Africa in order to move structures in and out. The government predicts the shipyard will create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs directly and indirectly. Shipyards have a 10x multiplier effect on job creation. So far, the shipyard along has created about 1,000 jobs, with 500 jobs outside the shipyard in the free zone.”

LADOL built the shipyard – the largest of its kind in the world – with support from French multinational oil and gas company, Total. “Total showed a tremendous amount of faith in LADOL and in Nigeria,” Jadesimi comments.

Sustainable development

Jadesimi hopes the same faith will be shown in Nigeria by more companies and governments. Providing the right infrastructure for sustainable development is key here and something LADOL has done proactively. “One of the biggest barriers to Nigeria being able to export agricultural products is lack of storage facilities like cold storage,” she outlines, adding that this is something LADOL can now provide.

“We need industrialisation to take place across Africa, and we have to do it in a new way. We’re bringing in the best technologies to sustainably industrialise our country and hopefully the continent.” Jadesimi emphasises that sustainability isn’t just a ‘green’ buzzword, but rather outlines changes and growth that can continue for years to come. “It means deploying technology. It means diversity in employment. It means looking at value assessed collaboration for mutual benefit.

“Sustainability encompasses an understanding. You have to have a new relationship between countries and companies, local and multinational, that are embedded in an understanding that success means mutual benefit. If you’re a foreign company you’re helping create jobs in Nigeria and helping to grow the middle class. You’re helping to make sure our vast population contributes positively to the global economy.”

Jadesimi is an active member of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) which follows the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “We put together a report that demonstrated the businesses that are sustainable and operate in line with the 17 SDGs, are more profitable than those that don’t.”

According to Jadesimi, the BSDC has been instrumental in highlighting two key points: “One is the fact that there are these opportunities in countries like Nigeria, and if you don’t go after them you’re not going to be a viable company much past 2030. The other thing is that in order to tap into these opportunities, you need to tap into the local private sector. At LADOL, we have to make investments ourselves so we can attract investment from the outside. Work must be done on both sides and I feel that organisations like the BSDC really help push data and information and encouragement to both sides to do that work.”

Onward and upward

Jadesimi is keen to emphasise how the LADOL zone will contribute to Nigeria’s growing population, but also to the industrialisation of Africa and to the global GDP in years to come. “You don’t have to build a LADOL in every country in West Africa – in fact, it’s unlikely any other country could afford a LADOL. Because we have made the investment in Nigeria, you don’t have to. It will be more advantageous to work with us as a regional hub and a lot cheaper than sending things to the other side of the world.”

Currently, LADOL is working to upskill and provide career development opportunities for staff, which in turn will afford the business leading employees. “We’re building up an academy in LADOL which will be open in the first quarter of next year, covering a wide range of skills,” Jadesimi explains. “We will use a campus model and focus more on skillsets needed inside the free zone initially, but then look to build up skillsets outside as well.

“Much like universities and business schools, we’ll have career services where we’ll keep track of the people that go through the school so we can help them build careers, which unfortunately for many people in Nigeria is not something they’ve had the opportunity to do before.”


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