Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo-Udoma, has commenced discussions with the management of the Chinese EXIM Bank in Beijing, China, that will lead to the implementation of the various projects discussed during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to China.
The President, during a visit to China earlier this year, had reached a number of agreements with the Chinese government on development assistance particularly the funding of some critical infrastructure in the country.
The visit by the President further bolstered Nigeria’s participation in the ten critical areas under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, FOCAC.
A statement issued by Akpandem James, the Media Adviser to the Minister, said that the Budget minister is currently in China to attend the FOCAC Coordinators meeting as a follow-up to the President’s earlier visit.
The statement quoted Udoma as saying that his visit was to exchange views with the management of the bank and to see how Nigeria can deepen the bilateral cooperation already existing between it and China.
“Our relationship with China is very important to us, which was why our President led a big delegation on a State visit to China in April this year. We are quite impressed with the infrastructural development in China and believe that China has a lot to teach us in Nigeria; particularly we will like the support of China in the area of infrastructure development,” he said.
The minister listed some of the projects for which the federal government would require assistance from China.
They include: “the Nigerian railway modernization projects from Lagos to Kano – (Lagos –Ibadan) and Lagos – Kano (Kano – Kaduna) which are two parts of the same project; the coastal railway project from Calabar to Lagos, the Mambilla Hydro-electric project and the Niger Delta East West road project,
Other projects the FG have in mind to execute are: “power transmission projects, Greater Abuja Water project, Abuja Mass Transit project, Galaxy Backbone project, NTA Digitalization, expansion of Abuja- Keffi road, and the dualization of the Akwanga – Keffi road” among others.
The Minister stressed that the priority projects, particularly the railways, will help the rapid development of Nigeria and expand its economy thereby increasing capacity of the country to repay the loans.
Udoma also said that Nigeria would appreciate it if Chinese companies came and invested in the Export Processing Zones.
He reiterated Nigerian government’s commitment to diversifying its economy, saying that Nigerians, like the Chinese, are hardworking people and with the right infrastructure in place they will work harder and the country will make wealth and become a better partner to China.
The vice president of the Chinese EXIM bank, Xingyong said the bank already enjoys a very sound relationship with Nigeria and is willing to deepen the bilateral cooperation with the country and extend financial support for development purposes.
“We appreciate the idea of the EPZ. By establishing EPZs it will create the enabling environment for enterprises and provide revenue for Chinese business investments in Africa. Such EPZ will become a vehicle for international cooperation between China and Nigeria, and transfer of industrial capacity between the two countries,” he said.