Buhari and Jinping sign $328m loan deal under which China commits to investing in Nigerian telecoms sector

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has signed an agreement with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping involving the granting of a $328m loan by China's Exim Bank to fund telecommunications investment in Nigeria.


Under the terms of the deal, the agreement is part of the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase 11 (NICTIB 11) between Galaxy Backbone and Huawei Technologies Limited. President Buhari arrived in China yesterday to attend the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) and the agreement is part of this ongoing economic partnership with the Chinese.


Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, said  that the loan is for the development of the NICTIB 11 project which is consistent with the current administration’s commitment to incorporating the development of information communication technology into national strategic planning under the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Tomorrow, President Buhari will meet Nigerians living in China before joining President Jinping and other African leaders for roundtable sessions to discuss among other things the implementation of the 10 cooperation plans adopted at the last meeting.


Mallam Shehu added: “President Buhari and his Chinese host will also witness the signing of the MOU on One Belt One Road Initiative. It may be recalled that in 2013, that the Chinese leader proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, with a view to integrating the development strategies of partnering countries.


“During the high-level dialogue between Chinese and African Leaders and business representatives on the margins of Focac, the Nigerian delegation is also expected to sign no fewer than 25 MOUs, including those proposed by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. The summit is also expected to adopt the Beijing Declaration and the Action Plan for the development of China-Africa cooperation and fashion out new opportunities to grow Nigeria-China comprehensive strategic partnership from 2019 to 2021.”


Floated as a forum through which China could boost its presence in Africa, Focac has involved Chinese leaders meeting with their African counterparts to discuss raw material-for-investment opportunities. Surprisingly though, no businessmen were on President Buhari's entourage as it was made up of politicians like the Governors Mohammed Abubakar, Akinwunmi Ambode, Badaru Abubakar and Rochas Okorocha of Bauchi, Lagos, Jigawa and Imo States and Senators Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Godswill Akpabio and Aliyu Wamakko.