In a significant development at the ongoing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in Beijing, China has made a substantial commitment to finance and complete the Abuja-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects in Nigeria. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China made this commitment during a bilateral meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima, representing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,leadership reports.
It’s worth noting that, since the inception of these projects, China had not released funds due to budgetary constraints and other obligations. Initially, China had agreed to provide 85% of the financing for these railway projects, with Nigeria responsible for the remaining 15%, which it had been funding through annual appropriations. The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was the designated contractor for the projects.
President Xi Jinping expressed his enthusiasm for the Nigerian delegation’s visit and pledged increased investments in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy. He also emphasized the need to safeguard Chinese nationals working in Nigeria while strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two nations.
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President Jinping assured continued efforts to combat terrorism and maintain peace in the Sahel region, highlighting China’s commitment to long-standing military cooperation and joint exercises. He echoed President Tinubu’s sentiments that Africa is pivotal on the world stage and pledged China’s support for Nigeria’s role in international relations and alliance commitments.
Vice President Shettima conveyed President Tinubu’s well-wishes and underscored the vital importance of the rail projects for Nigeria’s economy, job creation, and trade and investment opportunities. He emphasized the desire for a strong and respectful relationship with China, free from political interference, and proposed elevating the current partnership to a comprehensive strategic one. Vice President Shettima expressed gratitude for China’s historical support for Africa’s struggles and its enduring friendship.
Before the meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima, President Xi Jinping officially declared the BRI Forum open, attended by numerous heads of state and senior government officials.