Nigeria Urged to take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative Now

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Nigeria Urged to take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative Now

The Nigerian government has been urged to take measure to fully engage with the China’s “Belt and Road” initiative as a new framework for international cooperation. The initiative was launched in 2013 by Chinese President, Xi Jinping to build infrastructure networks both overland and maritime to connect Asia, Europe and Africa. Nigeria was practically absent at the maiden edition of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing China in May 2017.  There was no high level delegation from Nigeria. There were 29 heads of heads and government presents including two from Africa.

China made history for hosting the biggest diplomatic event in May 2017. The two days world events applauded by media men around the globe ended with hope for the common man. As the curtains were drawn in Beijing on the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) a global blueprint was released, setting up the stage for greater economic integration for globalization.  The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing, has no doubt revealed China’s ability to lead globally.

The Belt and Road Initiative aims to allow all concern countries to have access to development opportunity through enhancing cross-border connectivity and improving cooperative levels of cross-border trade and investment and boost global economy and promote balances, healthy and sustainable development of the world economy by increasing effective supply of new demand.

At the roundtable meeting attended by 29 Heads of States and Governments, President Xi Jinping listed the challenges facing the world, including sluggish economic recovery, a growing development plans to deal with challenges, the only and best way to handle the prevailing situation is for all countries to align their policies and integrating economic factors and resources on the global scale, this will help us achieve peace, stability and shared development.

At the closing ceremony in Beijing , President Xi Jinping statement defined the scope of the Belt and Road in clear terms. According to the President, “though originating in China, the Belt and Road Initiative belongs to the whole world. Its development goes beyond regions, stages of development and civilization”.  This is a pointer to the fact that the Belt and Road Initiative has led to the drawing of a magnificent blueprint for inter-connectivity and mutual access for the world.

Twenty years ago, only 12 percent of African roads had all-weather paving, while bridges, airports and railways were in disrepair, many in conflict-affected countries like Angola, Liberia and the Congo. Today the story has changed as Belt and Road Initiative is visible in Africa. China contributes not only to local infrastructure through buildings and industrial zones, but also to the physical integration of African states through regional projects in the form of roads, railways, waterways, energy infrastructure, and others. This can be seen through the 2015 African Union-China memorandum of understanding to cooperate on major infrastructure and industrialization projects, which represents another step toward the African Union’s Agenda 2063 to have world class infrastructure throughout the continent.

Notable examples include the Merowe Hydropower Dam Project in Sudan, completed in 2009, the West-East Expressway in Algeria linking the North African countries, completed in 2014, and the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Project, completed in September 2016. All of these projects were overseen by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as the China International Water and Electric Corporation and the China Civil Construction Corporation, while at least partly financed by Chinese banks. To ensure that Nigeria benefits from the Belt and Road Initiative, concerned Nigerians came together recently to dialogue.

At a round table dialogue on “China Initiated Belt and Roads”, FOCAC process and the prospects of deepening China/Africa and China/Nigeria Cooperation,” organized by the Center for China Studies in Abuja on at the weekend as Nigeria prepares to participate in the 2018 summit of Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) with particular interest on the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI), scheduled to hold in Beijing in September.

A communiqué issued at the end of a round table dialogue in Abuja said the initiative represents an emerging architecture of a new global economic order and that Nigeria, as a key regional power in Africa, must clearly have its imprint in any new emerging global order.

According to the communiqué signed by Director, Centre for China Studies, Mr Charles Onunaiju, the core issues of the initiative objectively corresponds to the current challenge of filling Nigeria’s obvious infrastructural gap.

We urged the Nigerian government “to seize the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative, which in several ramifications is a profound and deeper expression of the comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and Africa, to advance the reconstruction of Nigeria’s economy with its important components of agriculture modernization, industrialization and transport infrastructure networks.”

After over 15 years of rapidly expanding economic and political exchanges, China-Africa relations are changing. We have seen lots of high level delegations both to China and African countries. This 2018 is important one for China’s relationships with African countries, as Beijing is set to host FOCAC, a set of ministerial conferences between China and the African countries held every three years. The first one was held in 2000 in Beijing and the latest in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2015, China announced a $60 billion package plan for the China-Africa cooperation.

The Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Lin Jing, has said the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, scheduled for September in Beijing would strengthen Nigeria-China bilateral relations.   Speaking at recently at a roundtable dialogue with the theme; Initiated FOCAC process and the prospects of deepening China/Africa and China/Nigeria Cooperation,” organized by the Center for China Studies in Abuja as Nigeria prepares to participate in the 2018 summit of Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) with particular interest on the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI), scheduled to hold in Beijing in September.

According to the Acting Director Asia-Pacific in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Abdulhamid, who represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Belt and Roads Initiative, is going to provide the avenue for China and Nigeria relationship to strengthen.  In his words “The upcoming FOCAC in Beijing is going to provide an avenue where African countries will once again come together with China and we believe that Nigeria should take this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria’s interest is protected and promoted during the summit,”.

Speaking at the dialogue,  Mr.  Simon Ileuma, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said “that the Chinese government has been a reliable ally to the Nigeria in terms of economic development, in terms of infrastructure development, in terms of social development, in terms agricultural diversity. The Chinese Government has been forthcoming in providing long term loans for the country. These loans must be used in capital projects that have high internal rate of return and this is what we have been benefiting from the Chinese government

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