Nigeria expects to become an African hub for transshipment with a new deep seaport set to open in the commercial capital of Lagos before the end of this year, its managing director said on Wednesday.

Du Ruogang, managing director of Lekki Deep Sea Port -- owned 75% by China Harbour Engineering Company and Tolaram group with the balance between Lagos state government and the Nigerian Port Authority, said the port has reached 89% completion.

The multi-billion dollar deep seaport which has been under development for more than a decade and is situated on the edge of Lagos is part of new infrastructure that Nigeria hopes it can use to boost trade.

The new port with 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit capacity, has more than four times the capacity that can be handled by existing ports in the country.

"With this port, Nigeria will become a transshipment hub," Information Minister Lai Mohammed said during a site tour.

Mohammed said Nigeria wanted to use the port investment to regain maritime business lost to ports in Togo, Ivory Coast and Ghana, adding that the new facility will give the country an edge on African trade.

African countries launched a continental free trade area, aiming to bring 1.3 billion people together in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that supporters say will boost intra-African trade, living standards and encourage development.

Ruogang said a second phase of the port development will commence within the next seven years.

(Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Sandra Maler)