BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is home to over 170 million people. It is made up of about 200 ethnic groups, has 500 indigenous languages, and two major religions - Islam and Christianity. And as CCTV’S Peter Wakaba reports from Abuja, the country’s diplomatic and economic ties with China date back to the 1970s...and they keep going from strength to strength.
Nigeria is a country of many firsts: It is Africa’s foremost and largest oil producer, producing almost 2 million barrels of oil a day at its peak; It is Africa’s most populous nation, and now has become Africa’s largest economy. It is a country that that has also led in technology, being one of the first in Africa to launch its own communications satellite built in conjunction with China in the last century.
Ever since late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlhai’s maiden trip to Africa half a century ago, Africa has become increasingly important for China’s foreign policy and trade, and both sides have continuously created mutually beneficial and win-win prospects.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Nigeria where, Chinese companies are hard at work helping transform the country through infrastructure and social development and one of the countries to host the Chinese Premier on his Africa visit.
"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the very first visit by our late premier Zhou Enlai which was 50 years ago, so this year is significant and premier Li’s visit will be his very first visit because he took over last year," said Gu Xiaojie, Chinese ambassador to Nigeria.
Though Nigeria has undertaken a GDP recalculation exercise which saw its GDP jump to 510 million dollars from an estimated 270 billion dollars previously, the country still faces a challenge in poverty reduction, usually major challenge for any developing country. The population remains fiercely optimistic.
"China used to be where we are now, a lot of poverty, I remember when I was young, I used to read a lot of magazines from China. A lot of rural areas, a lot of poverty, but somehow they have managed t grow out of it, second largest economy in the world now. Therefore, if we borrow their concepts, and their practices and their way of doing things and their way of think and the way they look at life, we too are going to make it," said Dr. Mark Igbani, special advisor to the president.
These challenges however hasn’t stopped the country becoming one the largest trade partners with China on the continent. According to the Institute of Africa Studies at Zhejiang Normal University in china.
"On the whole I think we are very satisfied with the trade relationship between china and Nigeria. Nigeria is the third biggest trading partner of china in Africa and I can foresee potential for the trade relationship between china and Nigeria," said Gu.
Chinese companies have been working in Nigeria for over 40 years now. One of this is the China civil engineering construction company. According to the company’s Chief Executive in Nigeria, infrastructure development is just the first phase of cooperation between the two nations, with technology transfer already taking place.
"we set up two schools, one in Lagos one in Abuja for training of Nigerian staff, improve the technology ability and transform our technology and also some senior staff we send them back to china to the university for training," said Shi Hongbing, managing director of CCECC Nigeria.
Nigeria remains the biggest market for Chinese construction companies in Africa and third in terms of bilateral trade relations.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy after rebasing its GDP. And with 65% of the country’s, 170 million strong population being the youth and still growing this country is projected to experience a massive and dramatic jump in prosperity and growth over the next few years.