Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have presided over the signing of accords between their governments to facilitate $1.1bn in low-interest loans for much-needed infrastructure in Nigeria.
The ceremony took place on Wednesday in Beijing at the start of Jonathan’s four-day visit.
China, which is increasingly looking to Africa for oil and other natural resources, is offering Nigeria loans to help fund airport terminals in four cities, roads, a light-rail line for its capital, a hydropower plant and oil and gas infrastructure.
Jonathan’s visit comes a few months after Xi’s trip to Africa, which took him to the Republic of Congo, Tanzania and South Africa. All three countries are rich in natural resources.
Xi said China and Nigeria had been brought together by a common task of pursuing national development.
“China and Nigeria share the same goal of achieving prosperity for both countries, and this shared task brings our two countries together.”
Jonathan is visiting with a dozen of his cabinet ministers, including those for petroleum resources, trade and transport, as well as several state governors, senior government officials and business-people.
“China is a very good country, has a very robust economy. And that’s why when I was coming, I came with quite a number of cabinet ministers and other very senior government functionaries,” Jonathan said.
Following a meeting between Xi and Jonathan, representatives from both countries signed five deals, including a lending agreement between China’s Import-Export Bank and the Nigerian finance ministry for the expansion of the airport terminals and an economic and technical cooperation pact.
Details of the agreements were not immediately available.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister, said the loans being finalised during the trip were part of $3bn approved by China at interest rates of less than 3 percent.
Chinese companies are already building roads across Nigeria in contracts worth $1.7bn.
China’s demand for crude oil produced in Nigeria is expected to rise tenfold to 200,000 barrels a day by 2015, according to information provided by a team accompanying the Nigerian president.