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Nigeria, others embrace Belt and Road Initiative benefits

[FILE] Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a joint press conference during the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Lintao Zhang

Nigeria, and at least 60 other countries are eager to embrace the benefits from the various economic opportunities being offered by The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The BRI is a development strategy being used by the Chinese Government, including infrastructure and investments in countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The idea was formulated by Xi Jinping in 2013, as One Belt and One Road Initiative, and later changed to The Belt and Road Initiative, in 2016.

Nigeria officially entered into the BRI through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in September, last year.

President of China, Xi Jinping at the signing ceremony asserted that Nigeria becoming a member of BRI would further strengthen China-Nigeria bilateral relations.

However, the initiative has been limited to few sectors in Nigeria, either through ignorance or lack of information.

The development informed the recent “Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative and Production Capacity Co-operation Between China and Nigeria,” organised by the Chinese Government in Lagos.

Consul General of the Chinese Embasy in Lagos, Chao Xiaoliang, in his welcome address, hinged the MoU on the strong relationship between the two countries, describing it as a stage of growth unmatched in history.

He disclosed that the Beijing Summit was focused on eight initiatives, including which industrial promotion, infrastructural connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange and peace as well as security.

He added that the implementation of these eight major initiatives could only be strengthened by deeper exchanges and discussions between Chinese and Nigerian government institutions, business communities, think-tanks, cultural circles and others.

“Only in this way, we can put forward a sustainable, practical and inclusive co-operation, road map and shared vision” he said.

The Ambassador of China to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, who expressed satisfaction with attendance at the forum, said China was making history in Nigeria, not only because of readiness to tap into BRI, but because the two countries have a lot of things in common.

BRI created the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), with capital base of $100billion to finance infrastructure and other related projects in Asia and other beneficiary countries, which only South Africa, and Egypt from Africa have been tapping from.

For instance, Pakistan, through BRI, was able to strike a deal of $62billion in projects scheduled along the China-Pakistan Economic corridor, equivalent of 21% of Pakistani gross domestic product (GDP). This has not only yielded dramatic long-term impact on her domestic economy and businesses, but also scaled energy capacity to 9,000MW representing 50% increase in the country’s energy output to woo investors.

In Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria are now poised to tap into the BRI opportunity.

At the Lagos forum, the Vice Chancellor, Nanmdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, disclosed how students from the institution acquired scholarship through China’s benevolence.

He lauded the vast opportunities BRI has made available for students, and expressed the University’s readiness to continue to leverage them with a view to strengthening ties with China for the benefit of more students.

Also, the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who lauded the BRI, disclosed of China’s establishment of the Confucius Institute, where Chinese Language and culture are already being taught and promoted.

He solicited the building of a skyscraper of about seven floors within the campus, to strengthen the already mutual relationship between the University and Republic of China.
Similarly, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, disclosed that The BRI has created a platform and opportunity for Nigeria to leverage.

He expressed the preparedness of his State to accommodate every development that the Initiative brings, declaring an open door for investment.

The Deputy Governor, Ekiti State, Chief Adebisi Adegboyega Egbeyemi, also his expressed readiness to tap into available opportunities by making adequate preparation for BRI’s operation in the State.

Former Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Dr. Bola Akinterinwa, praised China
for opening its doors for other nations to benefit from the BRI.

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