Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked the Asian giant, China, to support Africa’s infrastructure development with $90bn over a nine-year period as such a gesture will be impactful on the continent.
He stated that the fund would go a long way in addressing the infrastructure deficit of African countries, which he said needed $90bn annually to bridge the development gap.
The former President said these in his keynote address in Abuja on Wednesday at the Abuja Forum with the theme, ‘A new era for China-Africa Cooperation: Partnership for Peace, Security and Development’, organised by the Gusau Institute in collaboration with the Centre for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China.
He stated, “It has been estimated that Africa needs some $90bn for infrastructure every year. It will not be a bad idea if China can provide $10bn of that amount every year for a period of nine years in the first instance.
“It will be about 10 per cent of the estimated need for infrastructure, but it will be impactful. All these can be done through the China Development Bank, China Exim Bank and the proposed Infrastructure Development Fund, along with the World Bank.”
For poverty reduction, the ex-President said Sino-Africa relations should enter into a strategic partnership in the area of grant, short and medium-term concessional loans and long-term loans, which should be evolved and strengthened to cover education, skills acquisition and capacity development, infrastructure and trade.
He explained that education should be covered mostly by grants through official development aid assistance, while trade and infrastructure could be covered by concessional loans.
Obasanjo pointed out that within a space of about one generation (1981-2012), about 500 million Chinese had been taken out of poverty, declaring that the feat was the highest level of development ever recorded in human history.
Obasanjo, who traced the history of how China arrived to become “a centre of the world,” commended the contributions of Chairman Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping for the rejuvenation of the Asian country, which is now the second largest economy in the world.
He added that President Xi Jinping had also consolidated power internally and asserted China’s regional and global interest, influence and authority, stressing that in the areas of peace and security, governance and poverty reduction, China had recorded success, which Africa countries could emulate.
He added, “The fundamental for peace, security and stability is meeting the fundamental aspiration of the people – food, clothing, shelter, education, health and employment.
“If China has made progress at home in these areas, China can also teach Africa how to fish. What has worked for China can also work for Africa within the Africa value and culture.”
He urged China to broaden its relationship with Africa in the areas of finance, investment, trade, development assistance, technology transfer and training, tourism and cultural exchange.
Obasanjo stated, “What has China done in the reform area that Africa can benefit from? Tough action against bureaucratism, corruption, waste, extravagance and irresponsibility. Reform is a major aspect of governance.
“It is sad to note that over 50 years after independence, many African countries have not touched many important aspects of governance; they remained as left by colonial powers.”
Journalists could not reach the former President for an interview as he was shielded by guests, who accompanied him to his car immediately after the opening session of the forum.
Among dignitaries at the event were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; founder of the institute, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau (retd.), former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega; and the Managing Editor, News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Bayo Onanuga.
Credit: Business day