A consultant to World Bank, Prof Abel Ogunwale, has said more Chinese firms will invest in Nigeria’s agriculture as they see the sector as important to their country’s ‘Go Global’ drive.
Speaking with The Nation, Ogunwale said China were behind a lot of development finance and private-sector capital going into African agriculture, and that Nigeria had a lot to offer investors in terms of arable land and cheap labourers.
According to him, China has pursued an ambitious development strategy that paves new routes to development – typically non-conditional, chiefly commercial, loans to fund mega-infrastructure development projects delivered by Chinese state-owned companies. The funding, he explained, comes in the form of commercial loans, state-backed investment and trade agreements wrapped up as development assistance.
For many economies in Africa, he noted, China has become one of the largest providers of development finance in part because funding from other donors has declined.
He added that many developing African countries have few options other than to rely on China.
While he supports Chinese investment in Nigeria’s agriculture, Ogunwale warned that the government should not embrace the new debt architecture offered by China to bridge development gaps.
He explained while it lead to better, more sustainable, development outcomes, the terms pave the way for the Chinese government to take over the nation’s economy.
He warned the government against selling farm lands to the Chinese, adding that such agreements will lead to communities losing their heritage.
At the Seventh Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) in Beijing September 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged €52 billion in financing for projects across Africa.
over the following three years. This will include €13 billion in grants and interest-free or concessional loans – three times the amount pledged at the previous FOCAC in 2015 – €17 billion in credit lines, a €9 billion development finance fund and €4 billion to finance imports from Africa.
While Jinping did not detail the projects, he said agricultural modernisation would be a key focus, with the investment including funding for 50 agricultural assistance programmes and to send 500 agricultural experts to Africa to train entrepreneurs and agricultural scientists. Chinese firms would also be encouraged to invest at least another €9 billion in Africa over the period, Jinping added.