President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to Beijing, China for the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on Friday August 31, 2018.The FOCAC meeting chaired by Xi Jinping, President of China, witnessed the participation of 53 African countries.
The Forum on China-Africa Co-operation is a platform established 18 years ago by China and friendly African countries for collective consultation and dialogue and a cooperation mechanism between the developing countries, which falls into the category of South-South cooperation.
With trade volume between Nigeria and China at $14 billion in 2017, the purpose of the Forum is to strengthen consultation and expand cooperation and the focus is on cooperation as well as promoting both political dialogue and economic cooperation and trade, with a view to seeking mutual reinforcement and common development.
China has always maintained that its model of engagement with Africa is “win-win” cooperation between equals – members of the global “South” and developing countries.
While boosting the trade relationship with Nigeria, the pragmatic cooperation and equality and mutual benefit brought to the fore during the FOCAC meeting was buttressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to follow “five nos” in China’s Africa policy: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
The Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement signed with the People’s Bank of China on April 27, 2018 is already being implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN through intervention in the sale of foreign exchange in Chinese Yuan.
We commend the Chinese President Xi Jinping for telling Chinese firms they also had to respect local people and the environment. Chinese funds are not for “vanity projects” in Africa but are to build infrastructure and that China’s investment in Africa come with no political strings attached.
President Buhari has said that Nigeria’s partnership has resulted in the execution of vital infrastructural projects across the country, valued at over $5 billion in the last three years of his administration.
Through the Chinese support, Nigeria had impressively addressed significant challenges in the areas of infrastructure, human capacity development, power, transport, agriculture and humanitarian assistance.
Another feather in China’s cap is that it has stated that it would continue to assist in the development of Abuja Light Rail project and other projects in the country including the completion of the Mambilla Power Project in Taraba State. The Mambilla project, Nigeria’s biggest and one of Africa’s leading dam projects is a projected hydro power plant, which would be connected to three dams across Taraba’s Donga River.
During the China visit, President Buhari had said “our hope is to fund the project with concessionary loans from China, as any alternative funding arrangement will adversely impact the project’s viability. We have been informed that our submission on this project is undergoing assessment by the relevant Chinese agencies. We hope, with your kind intervention, this assessment will be expedited”.
China and Nigeria have indeed exchanged technology and enrich the bilateral relationship between the most populous nation in Asia and that of the African continent.
The narrative is certainly changing; the China summit was an excellent opportunity in building up Africa’s industrial capacity and exports, sharing of development experience.
If all the deliverables from the projects are achieved and sustained, the forging of partnership between Nigeria and China would provide opportunities that will hopefully unlock bottlenecks to development, boost Africa’s national rejuvenation and prosperity, and would also make lives better and more fulfilling for our people.
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