The Chinese government has expressed the urgent need for African governments to be independent of their development, saying Nigeria, as the major African power, is expected to lead a self-sustaining economy.
It also pointed out the fact that China is highly interested in maintaining a deeper cooperation with Africa, while stressing that African governments and firms, with preference for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), including Nigeria, should come out with workable plans to enable them benefit from the $60 billion funding support from the Chinese government.
This was disclosed at a lecture for a delegation of Nigerian journalists on the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ in Beijing, China.
According to Senior Research Professor, Zhang Yong-Peng of the institute of West Asia and African Studies (WAAS) in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), between 2016 and 2018, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, will focus on agriculture and food security, with $60 billion of funding support for African countries, including Nigeria and another $40 billion pool fund made available for interested countries and firms in the continent, through the Maritime/Silk Road Fund.
The financial support, Yong-Peng pointed out is through FOCAC, which was established in 2000.
The expert in International Politics, also disclosed that already, the Chinese government has established/built 25 Agricultural Techonological Demonstration Centres (ATDC’s) in Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt and Rwanda, stating that, “With the FOCAC, Nigerian companies should come out and bid for the loans and make use of it for development.”
He also expressed the need for the Nigerian government to engage in international development process and the economic take should be focus on industrialization, trade and investment. “China is committed to promoting Africa economic take off and Nigeria, as the major African power is expected to build its own ability and come out with workable plans to meet the purpose of the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims at integrating Africa in international development process, as well as accelerating its development strategy 2030, 2063 vision.
While urging African governments to be active in making use of the support capital and ensure plans as many as possible are on to grasp these opportunities, he explained how Nigeria, as a country and SMEs can benefit from the $40 billion pool fund, under the Silk Road Fund.
His words, “The pool is not distributed by making a plan. You apply as a country, as a local government or as a company, stating the amount of capital needed and back it up with a business plan and how much is needed as well as the time frame for the project. It will be evaluated, whether it is feasible or not. If approved, you get financial support.”
Continuing, he disclosed a breakdown of the $60 billion funding support, saying that, “$5 billion is for free aid and interest-free loans; $35 billion of preferential loans and export credit on more favorable terms. And $5 billion of additional capital for the China Africa Development Fund and special loan for the development of African SMEs each and $10 billion (initial capital) of China-Africa Production Capacity Cooperation Fund.”
In another development however, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, also announced at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, that, from May 14 to 15, 2017, China will host in Beijing, the Belt and Road Forum, which is geared towards international cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative which covers over 100 countries, aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes with the cooperation instruments including trade, investment and cultural exchanges.
Interestingly, a new railway, from Lagos to Ibadan, is being built with Chinese loan but the language barrier is a challenge, Yong-Peng submitted.