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Chinese President in Nigeria to Boost Growing Ties

  • Gilbert da Costa

China and Nigeria have endorsed series of agreements in a bid to expand growing bilateral ties. Chinese President Hu Jintao's in on a state visit to Nigeria.

Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Nigerian host Olusegun Obasanjo have signed a memorandum on petroleum cooperation. The deal provides for substantial Chinese investment in the Nigerian oil industry.

Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, has granted China four drilling licenses in exchange for commitments to invest $4 billion in oil and infrastructure projects.

Chinese offshore firm CNOOC has also concluded a $2.7 billion deal to buy a 45 percent share in a Nigerian oil field.

With Chinese oil consumption expected to rise about 400,000 barrels per day within the year, Mr. Hu's Nigerian tour is seen as an attempt to secure enough oil to meet China' surging energy demands.

Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Usman Bugaje is absolutely delighted with the Chinese interest in Nigeria.

"China is a growing economy, in fact the fastest in the world and clearly the kind of things that China has to offer, I do not think anybody in the world can ignore," he said. "And the kind of things China requires from us are the kind of things we have in substantial quantity and one that will definitely help the growth of our own energy sector and any other sector that China might be interested. I mean, I have in mind here not only oil, but agriculture. These are some of the areas, so it a very good thing for us."

The two leaders also signed six other agreements to consolidate what has been characterized as a strategic partnership. China has invested substantially in various sectors of the Nigerian economy in the past few years, particularly in telecommunications, petroleum, agriculture, and building infrastructure.

A large Chinese business delegation is visiting Nigeria to explore more investment opportunities. Bugaje welcomes the prospect of a new economic relationship that recognizes Africa's peculiar circumstance.

"We have a relationship with the West that is essentially colonial," he said. "Even after independence, this relationship did not substantial change. We still do not participate in fixing the prices of the primary commodities that we sell. We are still treated very much like colonies in terms of our trade relationship. All these things are bound to change. Because if we have an alternative in China and indeed it is a promising alternative, then the West stands to lose out and that means there will be competition now for products from the African continent."

President Hu addressed a joint session of the national assembly and will also meet with business leaders before flying on to Kenya.

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