China – Nigeria Bilateral Relations, how beneficial? Part 3, Conclusion.
The Chinese and Nigerian government met exclusively to discuss matters of mutual benefits. The leaders of both countries witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by their foreign ministers, captured as “One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’’. There was the signing of USD 328 million financing agreement for the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone by the then Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Wang Xiaotoa, Director-General, China International Development Cooperation Agency.
THE FORUM ON CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION (FOCAC).SEPTEMBER 1, 2018 RESOLUTION
Heads of State, Governments and delegations from 52 African countries, including Nigeria and the People’s, Republic of China met in Beijing, under the auspices of the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The tri-annual summit was held last year September with the theme: “China and Africa: Towards an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation.” President Buhari with President of Ruyi group in China.
President Muhammadu Buhari led a strong delegation from the public and private sector that included senators, state governors and the Ministers of Finance, Transportation, Power, Works and Housing, Budget and National Planning, Petroleum and Industry, Trade and Investment, and Minister of State, Aviation. The gains for Nigeria from the recent FOCAC, which alternates its meetings between China and Africa every three years, can be summed up in three ways: Nigeria as a member of FOCAC; Nigeria-China bilateral engagement and Nigerian Government–Chinese business partnerships. At the summit, which attracted multiple benefits for Nigeria, members agreed to bind themselves to the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese government, which essentially seeks to promote collectively, among one another, extensive consultation, cooperation and ensure shared gains.
Essentially, this translates into closer connection in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance, and people-to-people ties. All members will share development opportunities and promote cultural exchanges. Going forward, Africa and China will form a stronger synergy in world bodies such as the UN, World Trade Organisation and G77+China. They will align themselves in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063 of the African Union and support individual national development strategies. Overall, this should generate more resources for everyone, expand markets and create space for African development and broaden its economic prospects. To realize this, African countries agreed to participate in November last year in China’s first-ever International Import-Export Expo in Shanghai. It is important to note that China has categorically stated their commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of members, as well as pledged to support development efforts without political strings attached.
This should answer mostly Western critics who doubt the sincerity of China. In line with the general principles of the accord, Nigeria, with few African countries, were preferentially treated to bilateral meetings. The Chinese and Nigerian government met exclusively to discuss matters of mutual benefits. The leaders of both countries witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by their foreign ministers, captured as “One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’’. There was the signing of USD 328 million financing agreement for the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone by the then Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Wang Xiaotoa, Director-General, China International Development Cooperation Agency.
As for more specific takeaways from the bilateral meetings, Nigeria received blessings of the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping for the building of the country’s largest hydroelectric power plant in Mambila. Work on the power project commenced on the site in early 2019. When President Xi announced a USD 60 billion to finance aid and infrastructure projects in Africa at the FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg in 2015, Nigeria joined other countries to draw from the funds for critical infrastructure that included railways, roads, and power. In the last 24 months, China has given Nigeria support in scholarships, military training and security assistance, agriculture and concessionary loans to fund infrastructure. Nigeria has attracted more than USD 5 billion finance and more is still under discussion with the government of China. With a further USD 60 billion announced for the next three years by President Xi, Nigeria should hope to make more progress in closing its infrastructure deficit. At the Johannesburg summit, President Xi announced RMB 100 million in humanitarian and military assistance to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism. At the summit, he promised a further sum of RMB 50 million for the same purpose. President Xi promised to open China’s market for agricultural products from Nigeria and widen cooperation between the two nations in media, sports and culture. He noted that several Nigerian footballers in China were idolized by fans. The Chinese leader also promised to step up cooperation in intelligence and military training.
While commending President Buhari for taking measures to fight terrorism and insecurity, President Xi said the Nigerian leader was decisive in dealing with terrorism. “You are resolute–the same attitude as China,” he said. President Xi told President Buhari that he would support the reform of the UN “to increase the voice of developing countries in Africa”. He equally promised continued support for Nigeria’s infrastructure projects, citing the country’s railway modernization project; Lekki Deep Sea Pot; Zungeru Power Project; Abuja Light Rail; ICT and infrastructure backbone and Abuja Water supply as laudable developmental projects. The Chinese leader announced the establishment of a “manufacturing section” so that Nigeria can gain from China’s leading role in the world. “In some, we lead, in others, we need to catch up,” he added. On a parting note, President Xi told President Buhari that he was fully cognizant of the status and influence of Nigeria in Africa, saying, “We will step up cooperation and will provide assistance.
The estimated trade potential of the platform within the first three years given the current trade relationship with China is USD 500 million. This is expected to continue to grow, creating millions of jobs for Nigerians.
References: Vanguard News,
International Journal of Social Sciences and Management Research
Vol. 4 No. 9 2018 ISSN: 2545-5303 www.iiardpub.org
Nigeria’s Bilateral Trade Relations with China:
An Assessment (1999 – 2016)
Ndifreke S. Umo-Udo, Ph.D & Jacob A. Orifa