Ashiru: Africa seeks more investment from China through FOCAC
Abuja: China's investment in Africa has totalled about 10 billion U.S. dollars, but the continent is still in dire need of more capital from the country, Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ashiru says. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Ashiru said the increase in trade between Africa and China will not only foster development in the continent, but also create mutual benefit for peoples in Africa and China.
"We believe that China is a partner for development," he said. "We will continue to look forward to cooperation with China, so that we can together ensure economic and social development of our continent."
Ashiru will be joining representatives from 50 African countries and the African Union at the fifth ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) slated for July 19-20 in Beijing, China.
Nigeria is seeking further cooperation and investments from China, especially in key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and transportation, he said. A Chinese company has already expressed interest in Nigeria's railway rehabilitation, Ashiru said, adding it will be "very good for our economy because railway development is very important to our industrial growth and development."
"These are the sectors, including oil and gas, that China can look forward and invest in here," he added.
However, recent episodes of violence that hit the African state have spooked foreign investors, as dozens died in church bombings in the past month and a German engineer was killed on May 31 after being held hostage for more than four months.
But the minister shrugged off security concerns, saying "Nigeria is quite safe and ready to receive Chinese investors."
"The challenges we have are temporary and cannot over-shadow long term gains of Chinese investments in Nigeria. The challenges we have are localized to certain areas only, it's not a widespread phenomenon," he said.
"They (Chinese investors) are also aware that they will make bumper returns in terms of profits and dividends in Nigeria. We have a big market here. Nigeria is a market for the future, and that's why China knows that they must be in Nigeria," he said.
Nigeria, China's second largest trading partner in Africa, has Africa's largest population of 167 million, and is the largest oil producer in the continent. The African country also has abundant reserves of natural gas and coal.
The Nigerian minister said African leaders would put forward their agenda regarding areas that need urgent improvement at the FOCAC, after first harmonizing their positions on the current level of development at the ongoing African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia.
Jointly set up by China and Africa in October 2000, the FOCAC has made abundant achievements in the last decade, boosting the development of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership in an all-round and tangible way.
The FOCAC, a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries, is the first of its kind in the history of China-Africa relations.