FOCAC: $5bn Chinese loans not debt traps for Nigeria – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected insinuations about the so-called ‘debt trap’ by the Chinese government on developing countries, insisting that Nigeria would be able to re-pay the loans.

This is even as he disclosed that Nigeria’s partnership with China through FOCAC has resulted in the execution of vital infrastructure projects across the country, valued at over $5 billion in the last three years under his watch.

He made the disclosure on Tuesday in Beijing at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Round Table meeting, attended by African leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Buhari said, “These vital infrastructure projects synchronize perfectly with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.  Some of the debts incurred are self-liquidating.  Our country is able to re-pay loans as and when due in keeping with our policy of fiscal prudence and sound housekeeping,” he assured.

Buhari stated further that the country was also leveraging Chinese funding to execute $3.4 billion worth of projects at various stages of completion.

The projects are the upgrading of airport terminals, the Lagos – Kano rail line, the Zungeru hydroelectric power project and fibre cables for our internet infrastructure.

He said with the support of the Chinese under FOCAC, Nigeria has been able to address significant challenges in the areas of infrastructure, human capacity development, power, transport, agriculture and humanitarian assistance.

President Buhari said, ”For Nigeria, our partnership with China through the FOCAC platform, has resulted in the construction of the first urban rail system in West Africa. This $500 million project in Abuja was commissioned in July this year.”

He noted further the support has also led to the construction and operation of the first rail system in Africa that uses modern Chinese standards and technology.

According to him, “This 180km rail line that connects Abuja and Kaduna was commissioned two years ago at a cost of $500 million. Today the rail line is functioning efficiently with no issues – indeed, a sign that Chinese technology is world class.

“Nigeria is leveraging Chinese funding to execute $3.4 billion worth of projects at various stages of completion. These include the upgrading of airport terminals, the Lagos – Kano rail line, the Zungeru hydroelectric power project and fibre cables for our internet infrastructure.

“Furthermore, less than three months ago, Nigeria signed an additional $1billion loan from China for additional rolling stock for the newly constructed rail lines as well as road rehabilitation and water supply projects.”

According to him, the aforementioned projects demonstrates the Chinese government’s high level of consistency and commitment in boosting its relations with African countries under the umbrella of FOCAC.

“I am optimistic that this Summit will offer new opportunities that would build on these past achievements,” he said, adding that, ”Nigeria will continue to support the FOCAC initiative and also seek to key into the Belt and Road Initiative as an additional Chinese mechanism to build further cooperation in our quest for infrastructural and economic development.”

President Buhari, while applauding China for its overall commitment to the ideals of FOCAC, the President acknowledged that since the launch of the Forum in 2000, China and Africa had striven to implement the declarations and follow-up action plans for the benefit of both parties.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President  on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement said, Buhari also commended President Jinping, his Government and people for successfully hosting the Beijing Summit aimed at further strengthening China-Africa partnership.

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