By Temitope Ponle
China has said it stands ready to enhance its security cooperation, expand inclusive development, improve connectivity and deepen people-to-people understanding with Nigeria through the Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian, said this at the Abuja-Beijing Consensus Roundtable in Abuja on Thursday.
Zhou said his government’s commitment to work with Nigeria was to bring “more tangible BRI cooperation benefits” to both countries and peoples.
“The Belt and Road cooperation is entering a new stage, bringing enormous opportunities for high-quality BRI cooperation between China and Nigeria.”
The envoy recalled that the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in April was fruitful with the signing of agreements of over 64 billion dollars with different business representatives from participating countries.
The ambassador said China also signed over 100 bilateral and multilateral cooperation documents with relevant countries.
He added that the Coordinators’ Meeting on the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit would be held in Beijing in June.
Zhou said the meeting would facilitate prompt and efficient implementation of the eight major initiatives of the Chinese Government with African countries over the next three years.
The initiatives announced by Chinese Government at the FOCAC summit in Sept. 2018 covered areas ranging from industrial promotion, facility connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, among others.
Also speaking, Mr Shuijin Ye, President, China General Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, said the roundtable provided a forum to explore Nigeria-China cooperation and the BRI.
Shuijin said the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government was closely aligned with the policy direction of the BRI.
“The ERGP aims to achieve sustainable and high-quality development by strengthening infrastructure, expanding financing channels, promoting private sector development and focusing on solving the problems of energy, electricity.
“It also focuses on solving the problems of foreign exchange shortage, unfriendly business environment and lack of technology which hinders development.
“ERGP is a choice of the Nigerian Government and people to meet the needs of social development.”
He added that Nigeria-China cooperation had huge opportunities and potential and the ERGP, FOCAC and BRI were the driving platforms for enhanced cooperation between the two countries.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Aminu Wali, said Nigeria should embrace the BRI and build a new framework to promote inclusive governance and for international cooperation.
“Nigeria should naturally welcome and work assiduously for a new framework for international cooperation and an inclusive global governance process such as the BRI that meets the earnest and legitimate struggle of African nations.”
Wali added that the participation of nearly 40 African countries in the second Belt and Road Forum held in April sought to promote issues at the core of the BRI. (NAN)