PRESIDENT OF AFRICANS COMMUNITY IN LIAONING, PROVINCE IN CHINA, DR AKOR GOODLUCK IS THE PROMOTER OF THE SINO-AFRICAN CHAMBER, THE GROUP THAT IS PROMOTING CHINESE INVESTMENT IN AFRICA. HE SPEAKS WITH REMI ADEBAYO IN ABUJA, ON THE PROSPECT OF THE INITIATIVE, ON A VISIT TO NIGERIA.
You’re facilitating Sino-African business in Africa but as a Nigerian which you are, how did you come about it?
I’m a Nigerian citizen who is based in China, precisely Shenhe Province in Shenyang; I have been there for more than five years from where we have been working for the projection of the Sino-African relationship in business enhancement especially in the areas of project, through a corps we call Sino-African Distributors Entrepreneurs Producers platform, that is incorporating all sector of businesses projecting them forward, including the government aspect of businesses.
You talked about project; what types of projects are covered under this?
Business is very broad, but currently, we are in the direction of the producer – consumer and the government to government business. So basically, I’m here in Nigeria for the inter-government projects business enhancement; such as housing project, power sector, transportation and agriculture; and the rest of them.
You may be aware that Nigeria is just coming out of recession that means funding may be a major constraint while considering these ideas. Will the Chinese Government be moving in funds to meet these projects?
Yes, very well. It’s a wonderful question. This is what makes the business and the cooperation wonderful. The Chinese investors are coming in with funds, they just need certain incentives from the beneficiaries; from African governments, precisely, the Nigerian government currently, which we are just working with and we still intend to work with many more at the state and even at the federal and local government levels. In this cooperation, the Chinese investors are coming in with the funds, with the plans on how to go about these projects, it will be more of a BOT project –Build – Operate – Transfer model; that means as soon as they realize their funds on investments, they hand over the projects back to the Nigerian government. So currently, what they need more is land, security any other assistance the Nigerian government can provide to protect their fund and life.
Since you mentioned those incentives and you have been able to move round some parts of the country on this; how much of them can you guarantee your partners in China?
So far from our movement and the progress being made, I know that land is available if the governments are willing to bring that out; it’s something within their reach; and security, every investor is careful about security. No one will want to come to a country where his life and investment will not be safe. So I believe they can be able to provide these basic needs for the investors.
The President Muhammadu Buhari’s Government is working more on diversifying the Nigerian economy in the areas of solid minerals development and agriculture. Are these investors also looking in those areas?
Yes. We have four key aspects that we are looking at – agriculture, housing, power and automobiles.
Recently, the Nigerian government disclosed there is an annual automobile need of about 2 million. Will these investors be coming with their already assembled cars or will establish new manufacturing companies here?
They are coming to build automobile factory here. Just like I said, it is a B-O-T plan, that, when they’re done, they take off their hands and they become Nigerian own brand.
Nigerians will like to know, since this is all about business. On what arrangement will the partners be negotiating to recoup their investment?
They already have this plan they carried out in China; and in Cameroun and it has worked for them; they have done in several African countries including South Africa. They believe that the model that has worked in those countries will also work in Nigeria.
In specific term, what kind of projects have they undertaken in those countries you just mentioned?
They have carried out projects in housing, agriculture and even education to some extent.
You have been to some states in Nigeria, what kind of understanding do you have from those trips?
Well, from my trips to these state governments, I see they’re very willing and eager to make everything possible that these projects between their states and our Liaoning Provincial Government is carried out, even soonest as possible. They are willing to provide every necessary incentive that is required.
Is your representation here about the Chinese government or these investors?
I am the President of the African Community in my province – Liaoning Province, so we are here to propagate the Sino-African relationship, just as I mentioned earlier.
Nigeria is confronted with so much challenges with housing deficits which is worsened by internal conflicts where many are living in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps. How much housing capacity do these investors have to meet up with these challenges?
At least, we are looking at minimum of 100,000 housing units per state within Nigeria.
Power is another crucial sector where the federal government in trying to deliver; have you made a presentation to the Ministry or the Minister?
As of now, we have not reached out to the minister (Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola), but we’re working to see how much we can; even they can reach out to us, why not? It will be better; just as many other governments are doing currently.
Many other governments are reaching out to you?
China as world’s second largest economy and most populous nation on earth has power stability. What form of power generations made this possible which one do you think they want to introduce here in Nigeria?
Power sector is very important. They are looking at renewable energy; solar energy, not just hydro. A lot of it but basically, they are bringing renewable and solar energy because we have that in abundance so, naturally, they can generate from our resources. So we intend to create stable electricity for each state within Nigeria.
Like how many megawatts in terms of capacity?
They have different figures based on their research in line with the peculiarities of each regional need and they’re generating these energies from; they have the figures. Some of them have worked with previous governments on this but think they should now work with our chamber and this is why we are here and things are turning out positively.
How much can we get as a nation in term of technology, seedling and other support from the investors to change the face of our agriculture?
What will make that different is the mode of operation; like I said earlier, they are doing what have been tested already and working, with details and it’s a fact. We know how China came out from poverty during the time of Chairman Mao. It was the way they made agriculture, but every country that wants to grow agriculture and move so fast must start with agriculture just like they did. They made agriculture to be simple for every man to be comfortable to practice. So, they’re coming with modern technology, seedling and fertilizer; and also coming to teach our people how to do this as well. They will also be building factories that will patronize those farms; with that they have raw materials closer and accessible to them. The farmers will have standby customers who will be ready to process their raw materials. This will also discourage huge waste and there will be high patronage to low farmer who is assured that that, ‘while this is ready, I have a customer that will patronize them’, and this will also increase the national export.
There is a Nigeria-Chinese Chamber of Commerce; is that the one you referred to?
No. I’m talking of the African Community Chamber, Liaoning.
What relationship exists between the two?
Currently, we don’t have a direct relationship with them our relationship is based on our provincial and local government, the Liaoning Province through the Foreign Trade and Economy Department in our province and in other local government within the province.
First published in www.tempoonline.com.ng