Gabriele Volpi leads the investment pool for the new Badagry super port in Nigeria
TIL and APM Terminals also believe in what is bound to become the largest maritime hub in West Africa
La Spezia – The new, gigantic port infrastructure scheduled to open in 2016 in Badagry (Nigeria, some 60 km from Lagos) as the largest maritime hub in West Africa will have a marked Italian flavour. In fact, its construction will involve 5 companies, namely APM Terminals (Maersk group), Oando Plc, Macquarie, Terminal Investment Ltd (TIL), and Orlean Invest West Africa, whereof the last two belong, respectively, to Gianluigi Aponte (patron of MSC) and to Gabriele Volpi, a Recco (Genoa)-born entrepreneur who moved 30 years ago to Nigeria where he developed a rewarding businesses in port and logistic services for the oil and gas industry.Works will start in the forthcoming months and the first phase should be completed within 2016. During an event organised by La Spezia Port Authority, Volpi, who is also chairman of the Spezia Calcio soccer club (Italian 2nd league), disclosed some details: “It's a 5 billion dollars project that'll reshape Badagry's waterfront into a state-of-the-art port lying on a 1,000 hectares total surface with 7,000 meters of quays handling containers, liquid and dry bulk, ro-ro and general cargo” he explained.Big investments are planned also for the new Badagry Free Trade Zone in the backport, with a refinery and a substantial logistic area.
APM Terminals informed that container throughput in Nigeria will reach 10 million TEUs yearly from current less than 2 million within the next 20 years, while Volpi reckons that the 5 millions threshold could be reached “in a few years after the start-up”.
The entrepreneur well knows Nigeria's economic environment as he set up several joint ventures with major oil companies like Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, and Eni, and other big corporations like Tecnimont, Tenaris, Saima Avandero, Rizzani De Eccher, Maersk, and Bourbon.
Nigeria's nice perspectives are in the figures: its population should increase from 170 million (1st in Africa and 7th in the world) to 289 million people (behind only China, India, the USA, and Pakistan) within some decades; with 10.2 million dwellers Lagos is the 2nd largest African city and hosts 60% of the country's manufacturing industry; Nigeria's economy is the 2nd in sub-Saharan Afrca (after South Africa) and the IMF reckons it will grow by 7.1% in 2012 and by 6.7% in 2013. Therefore, ports like the one envisaged by the project, look necessary.
Aponte too is arguably convinced that the economic sun will soon shine on Africa.
Actually, when in La Spezia, where he will invest, together with Contship Italia, 200 million euro in the enlargement of the local container terminal, he said: “When it'll start again, the American economy will pull also emerging countries like South Africa, India, and China, which in turn are pushing the global growth.”
Orlean Invest Holding's Nigerian kingdom
It's only recently that Gabriele Volpi came to the limelight of Italian media, but in the preceding 30 years he silently worked in Africa, especially in Nigeria and Angola. Near Lagos, where a 20 sqkm free trade zone for the oil industry sprang up, he built from scrap a port and land logistic services empire (Nigeria daily exports 2.6 million barrels of crude oil from its port terminals).
Orlean Invest Holding gathers all businesses in Nigeria of Volpi (and, now, his sons Simone and Matteo), ranging from logistics, to port warehousing and to real estate (they rent 35,000 sqm of offices and own 2,000 flats), and including catering, piping, engineering, plant engineering, as well as piloting in ports. Practically, in the zone no business starts up without a partnership with Orlean Invest, a rule also major oil groups are abiding by.
Gabriele Volpi has been recently dubbed 'the Italian Roman Abramovich', in the same scale as their yachts: Volpi's GiVi (60 meters, built at Ancona-based CRN yard) and the Russian tycoon's Eclipse (120 meters, recently refurbished by Fincantieri in Trieste).
Although he is rumoured to have some corpses in his cabinet, Volpi's figures are impressive: Intels, his oil logistics company, employs 15,000 people with a supposed turnover of 1.5 billion dollars, while his personal wealth, managed by various trusts, should be a multiple of 100 millions.
According to Volpi himself, everything started in 1976, when he started his activity in Angola and Nigeria, and met Gian Angelo Perrucci who had business in the zone through shipping company Medafrica. He first became a partner of Perrucci and then, since 1981, went alone.
By early 1980s drilling did not get off the shore by more than 300 meters but Volpi and his partners understood that it was to move farther by at least 3,000 meters and therefore asked for the concessions in 4 ports: Lagos, Warry, Port Harcourt, and Calabar.
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