Nigeria: Funds from China fuel China-Africa debate

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Nigeria has embarked on improving its infrastructure by securing funds from China to finance rail and communication projects despite mixed reactions towards China’s growing presence on the continent.

Nigeria’s finance minister Olusegun Aganga has confirmed that the amount of 900 million dollars has been signed from the Export-Import Bank of China whilst telling reporters that the rail project would begin next month, and would be completed in three years.

The sum of 500 million dollars would be used for a railway that would connect Nigeria’s capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna, while the rest would be used for public security communications project.

China has previously expressed interest in Nigerian oil blocks, but is willing to invest in the rail and communication project embarked upon by the Nigerian government.

The Asian power-house nation has become a major financier of projects across Africa and the growing Chinese presence on the continent continues to attract mixed reactions.

China’s direct investment in Africa had reached $9.33 billion in 2009, a jump from $490 million in 2003, according to expert reports.

However, Beijing said China-Africa co-operation helped Africa to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals, and boosted common prosperity and progress.

While China has become Africa’s largest trading partner after bilateral trade grew more than 43% to nearly $115bn in 2010, there has been strong criticism of China’s resource grasp in Africa.

But China needs more natural resources such as oil, gas, and minerals for its rapidly growing economy, while Africa needs more investment in basic infrastructure to develop its potential.

Analysts differ in opinion as far as China and Africa are concerned. While some support Chinese practice of separating politics from economics, others have expressed concern that Beijing’s no-interference approach may worsen the level of corruption, human rights and environmental issues on the continent.

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