“Investors from all over the world are falling over themselves to come and do business in Nigeria”, said President Muhammadu Buhari in his recent National Day address to Nigerians.
I know this to be true. Since my arrival in Abuja last month as China’s new Ambassador to Nigeria, I have been flooded with Chinese investors from Beijing and beyond, both active and prospective. The president of China-Africa Development Fund, the Chairman of the Overseas Investment Union of the Investment Association of China, the Chairman of CCECC, the CEO of CGCOC Group, the president of Star Times, the CEO of TIDFORE Group, to name just a few.
Also impressive is the enthusiasm and optimism the local Chinese business community shown when I meet and greet them. Their core message to me is loud and clear: the potential of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Nigeria is enormous and they want to invest more in Nigeria, be it in agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructural development or other fields. The “Made in Nigeria” project will go a long way for Nigeria and will go strong, while an initiative of “Made in Nigeria—with China” might help, as they say. Take agriculture. Food is vital for human survival.
China’s top priority in running the country has always been to produce enough food for the over 1.3 billion people. China has succeeded in feeding about 20 percent of the world’s population with only around 9 percent of the world’s arable land. As a major agriculture producer, China leads the world in the output of grain, cotton, fruit, vegetable, tea, meat, poultry, egg, and aquatic products. China stands ready to share its advanced and applicable technologies and management expertise with Nigeria without any reservation so as to help the largest country in Africa achieve food self-sufficiency by re-invigorating agriculture.
A CGCOC-invested agriculture and agribusiness park, with a Chinese Government-granted agriculture science and technology demonstration center will soon be built inside, is almost ready to play its due part. We are willing to work with Nigeria side to provide more effective platform to mobilize more Chinese investment in Nigeria’s Green Alternative. Then take manufacturing.
As the world’s largest manufacturing country, China ranks the first in the world in the output of over 200 industrial products. Nigeria needs manufacturing and industrial development, whereas China has fairly strong capabilities in financing and spare production capacity in these fields.
Each has so much to offer to the other side. Cooperation based on such complementary and mutual benefit will give an even stronger boost to China and Nigeria’s respective development. China supports the relocation of labor-intensive industries to Nigeria on a priority basis and the localization of Chinese companies to create more non-agricultural jobs, especially those suited to the young people.
As a matter of fact, during President Buhari’s successful state visit to China this April, the two sides signed a MOU on industry, production capacity and investment cooperation and a forum for this purpose was also held in Beijing. Next month, the China-Nigeria Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation Forum is going to be held in Lekki Free Zone Lagos and the Forum hopefully will be an annual event there around November 20th African Industrialization Day. As the saying goes, good company on the road is the shortest cut. China and Nigeria, both large developing countries, regard each other as important strategic cooperation partners.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 45 years ago, particularly in the past 11 years of our strategic partnership, the all-dimensional, wide-ranging and high-quality cooperation between China and Nigeria has been a pacesetter in China-Africa cooperation. The volume of China’s concessional financial support to Nigeria’s development is close to US$4 billion. China has become a major source for foreign direct investment in Nigeria. The friendship and cooperation between China and Nigeria have delivered tangible benefits to our two peoples.
China highly values its relations with Nigeria and is working closely with Nigeria in following through on the outcomes of President Buhari’s state visit to China and those of the Johannesburg summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and take China-Nigeria strategic partnership to a new height. As a strategic, dependable development partner of Nigeria, China will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in its quest to fulfill the aspirations of its good people.
As President Xi Jinping said in his address at the Opening Ceremony of the FOCAC Summit last November, “China-Africa relations have today reached a stage of growth unmatched in history. We should scale the heights, look afar and take bold steps. Let us join hands, pool the vision and strengthen the 2.4 billion Chinese and Africans and open a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation and common development.” Standing at a crucial new start point, the relationship between China and Nigeria is blessed with important development opportunity. Let us take it.
Zhou Pingjian is the new Ambassador of China to Nigeria