China’s state-led growth won’t work in Africa: Former Nigeria finance minister

For Okonjo-Iweala, it is important to demonstrate the fruits of African business deals with China to the public. She described Beijing-funded new airport terminals in the Nigerian capital Abuja as an example of this because “people will be able to see them, and witness them, and know that the money went into something concrete.”

Last week, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported that Nigeria had signed a deal with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build a railway from its economic hub Lagos to Kano, a commercial hotspot in the north of the country.

African countries must enter business deals with China “with our eyes open,” Okonjo-Iweala said, to capitalize on its manufacturing expertise and technological development.

Africa is in the process of expanding its manufacturing sector in an attempt to bolster economic development. Nigeria, as part of an attempt to wean itself off oil dependence, has grown its manufacturing base from just 2.5 percent of value added to GDP in 2009 to 8.8 percent in 2016, according to the World Bank.

But with regards to regulating Africa-China business deals, “we are absolutely not there,” Okonjo-Iweala said, although she added that this varied between African countries. Providing that fair and transparent agreements are drawn up, “we can work with China – why not?”

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