Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, UN, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has said China’s successes may present an alternative development path for the country, which is different from the Western neo-liberal system that had long been prescribed.
Gambari made this observation, weekend, as the country moves away from dependence on crude oil and seriously mooting diversification of its economy. According to him, this will increase the opportunities for cooperation between Nigeria and China, especially in the key areas such as infrastructure development and agriculture. Speaking at the Yale Africa-China Conference at the Lagos Business School, Lekki, on the theme, Africa-China Relations: Balance, Growth and Sustainable Future, Gambari stated that China’s companies were signing infrastructure deals worth more than $50 billion a year; and for investments in African farming, China has earmarked US$5 billion.” The former Minister of External Affairs, however, stated that the Chinese had come to be viewed with some mixed feelings, particularly in smaller countries where China’s weight was felt more. He pointed out that the quality of Chinese construction had increasingly been called to question, adding that the buildings erected by mainland firms had occasionally fallen apart. Gambari also noted the concerns that in its dealings with African countries, China tends to pay scant attention to human rights abuses. “African nations are also interested in China’s development experience, especially in successfully lifting millions of its people out of poverty at a time when Africa have not met United Nations Millennium Development Goal number one – which is having those who live on US$1 a day by the year 2015, he said “In Kenya, for example, 91% of the respondents said that they believed that China’s influence was positive, as against 74% for the United States. This is not to suggest that in all of Africa and in all aspects, there are no criticisms of China-Africa economic and trade relations. Even then, it is important to situate China’s trade and Economic relations with Africa in the context of the country’s multi-dimensional engagement with the continent. He added: “Unlike the West, China has largely been on the right side of the excess baggage of having been a colonial power in the continent. And since the Bandung Conference in 1955, China has been a leader and subsequently a partner in the Non-Aligned movement and has also vigorously supported the anti-colonial liberation movements in Africa, including the anti-Apartheid struggle. “Just over thirty years ago, in 1985 to be precise, I went to China for the very first time and as a dashing, young Foreign Minister of Nigeria on an official visit there. The then General Secretary of the Communist Party Hu Yaoban, and I had a great meeting to kick-start my programme. He observed, inter alia, that Nigeria was the most populous country in Africa while China was the most popular Country in Asia and wondered aloud how come trade between the two great countries was so miniscule. He urged both countries to commit to change that situation. “According to ADB Group Note, there is the risk of a Chinese economic slowdown for Africa’s development as the continent is vulnerable to economic shocks hitting China. From an average of GDP growth of more than 9% over the past three decades, a recent estimate by the IMF point to a projected slowing of 8.2% in 2012 and 8.8% in 2013. “And because China’s economic ties are largely resource based, a fall in the country’s demand for African commodities would impact negatively on the current account and fiscal position of the latter although, the decline in impact from Africa has indeed declined, but this decline was not dramatic. Similarly, lower growth in China could lead to contractions of credit lines to Africa from major Chinese banks.”
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