LADOL, a fully Nigerian owned firm has just within a period of one and half decades, built adequate infrastructure and human capacity, that have facilitated its emergence as world’s first Sustainable Industrial Special Economic Zone SSEZ, reports Francis Ezem.

The LADOL Free Zone located behind Apapa Port, Lagos.

The success story of LADOL Integrated Logistics Free Zone, is no doubt replete with consistency, clear vision and focus albeit daunting challenges. It is in the light of this that the company, fully Nigerian- owned, has been able to build a unique circular ecosystem, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, which currently services a wide range of industries. Developed out of a disused swamp, the zone has been operational since 2006, and has ever since, expanded its infrastructure and facilities as well as human capital that sustain this wide range of industries. This has no doubt, provided a roadmap not only for Nigeria’s industrialisation but across the African continent. This is given that the Zone now provides a 24/7 efficient, safe, and secure location from which local and international companies in a range of sectors, can start operating immediately. With what started initially as an oil and gas logistic hub for the West African sub-region, LADOL surprised the global oil and gas logistics community when in 2017, it disrupted the local oil and gas market, halving the costs of local support, and creating thousands of local jobs.

Managing Director, LADOL Free Zone, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, leading the executive management that drives the superlative performance of the Zone.

The company also made another history when it successfully integrated and handled the Egina Floating, Production Storage and Offloading FPSO at the zone after a 90-day long voyage from the Samsung Shipyard Heavy Industry, its technical partners in the Egina platform integration located in the Republic of South Korea. Even though there was a legal tussle between both parties over the local content role of LADO in the joint venture between it and Samsung Heavy Industry Nigeria Limited, SHIN the partnership vehicle for the execution of the $3.3billion Egina FPSO project which required the construction, fabrication and integration of the yard to carry out the in-country aspect of the Egina project for Total. It is however worthy of mention here that both parties have since settled amicably and have agreed to respect the letters of the agreement and to forge ahead in their future partnerships. 

 Experts believe that the successful handling of the project demonstrated Nigeria’s preparedness to undertake on greater responsibilities and challenges especially in terms of availability of top graded equipment. This is in addition to bringing about limitless opportunities in a diverse range of economic activities in the country.

They also believe that the successful berthing of the Egina FPSO, which has the capacity to last 40 years under the water, with over 200 crew members and weighing over 200,000 tonnes was a great task. Part of the economic benefits of the of the Egina FPSO project include that it provides the enabling environment to checkmate capital flight, encourage technological transfer and create employment opportunities much as it is a clear point of increased revenue generation to the country. Above all, it provided a major boost to Nigeria’s local content initiative.

With the huge success of the Egina integration project, LADOL is now focused on attracting and servicing a range of non-oil and gas companies in sectors ranging from technology to agriculture. These identified sectors will work together to create a circular economy within the Zone’s unique circular ecosystem,

With the benefit of the hindsight, LADOL identified the fact that West Africa remains one of the largest under-served markets in the world with the fastest growing population. Industrial companies working in LADOL can therefore service this market sustainably and profitably, while creating tens of thousands of jobs. It is obvious that as the local market grows, there will be higher demand for locally produced products, a larger skilled workforce, and cheaper domestic operating costs, which is a win-win for the country. In the light of this, the LADOL Free Zone has become a blueprint for the sustainable industrialisation of Africa, turning the continent’s demographic dividend into a global wealth creation.

To achieve this feat, LADO is deploying the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs in building this unique circular ecosystem, servicing this range of industries.

Managing Director of LADOL Free Zone, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, who drives this growth process in the company, believes strongly that African companies could become more resilient, profitable and have access to a new US $12 trillion market for sustainable businesses if they adhere strictly to these UN SGDs.

Speaking at the UN Global Compact CEOs Breakfast Roundtable held in Lagos in May, this year, Dr. Jadesimi noted that with 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product GDP of $US3.5 trillion, Africa remains the world’s largest growth market and consequently, African businesses are primed to play a pivotal role in the corporate sustainability movement.

Only last year, the LADOL Free Zone set yet another ground-breaking record as LADOL and Mammoet performed the first heavy lift project in West Africa, using the MTC 15 shore crane, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

MTC -15 is the biggest installed shore crane of its kind in West Africa and has transformed LADOL quayside into a heavy lift terminal.

The heavy lift project involved the offloading and launching of a multi-Cat 320-tonne vessel into the water using the MTC crane. The successful deployment of this crane opens up a new era for heavy lift operations in West Africa.

The direct implication of using the MTC crane, installed at LADOL’s quayside is that a major impediment to 100per cent local vessel fabrication and other large industrial projects taking place in Nigeria has been eliminated. Many seaports across the world, from Europe to America lack these heavy lift capabilities now installed in Nigeria at the LADOL Free Zone.

In addition, this automatically makes Nigeria the heavy lift hub for West Africa. This giant step forward in maritime and industrial capabilities also comes with a 40 per cent- 50per cent cost saving. 

LADOL and Mammoet had in 2020 signed a strategic partnership, aimed at expanding the company’s capacity for project cargo handling and logistics for industrial sectors in West Africa. This partnership enables LADOL to utilise Mammoet’s crane fleet, project cargo handling and heavy lifting expertise along with project management services to provide clients with more comprehensive and cost-effective solutions. 

In all these, the company maintains very high operational standards across board, including but not limited to health, safety and environment. It was in recognition of this ethics that the International Standards Organisation penultimate week, reaffirmed its ISO 9001, which came five years after this compliance feat was first achieved, thus making it one of the most compliant terminals in Nigeria and among the very few that have achieved this level of certification.

LADO had in 2020 become the first company in North and West Africa to be ISO 45001 certified. Earlier in the year also, the company had already renewed and retained its ISO 5001:2018+14001:2015.

The ISO 9001:2015 is a company level certification based on the standards published by the International Organisation for Standardisation entitled: “Quality Management Systems-Requirements”.

This standard revises ISO 9001:2008 to include requirements for a new, higher level structure as a common framework to all ISO management systems, risk-based thinking in quality system processes, fewer prescribed requirements with less emphasis on documentation, clear definition of quality management system boundaries and increased leadership requirements.

ISO 45001:2018 is for Occupational Health and Safety, OH&S, while 14001:2015 is for Environment Management Systems. The external audit leading to the successful renewal of LADOL’s QMS compliance certification was rigorous and thorough.

While speaking on the achievement of this great feat, the Managing Director described the successful revalidation of the ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management System, QMS as exciting. She thanked all the members of staff, management and all stakeholders in LADO, who she believes are instrumental to achieving this. 

“Compliance is a way of life for LADOL. In these tough times our high levels of compliance have been critical to us working reliably and safely in the market. This audit also included LADOL’s commitment to and execution of its sustainability plans. In fact, LADOL joined the UN Global Compact and the UN CFO Taskforce in 2021”, Dr. Amy Jadesimi also said.

Unarguably, LADOL’s emergence as world’s first Sustainable Industrial Special Economic Zone SSEZ remains a major breakthrough for Nigeria’s efforts towards industrialisation. It also provides the impetus for other indigenous organisations the springboard to key into the country’s local content policy.