Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday requested China to give $90bn to Africa for the development of infrastructure, saying it was the only way the current acute infrastructural deficit on the continent could be addressed. The money is to be spread for nine years.
Speaking at at forum organised by the Gusau Institute in collaboration with the Centre for Nigerian Studies of the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, at Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Obasanjo said that bridging the infrastructural needs of African countries will gulp $90bn.
His paper was tilted , ‘A new era for China-Africa Cooperation: Partnership for Peace, Security and Development”.
Prominent Nigerians that attended the event include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the institute, Lt. Gen. Aliya Gusau (retd.).
Lamenting the poor state of infrastructure in African countries , the former President said , “It has been estimated that Africa needs some $90 billion for infrastructure every year. It will not be a bad idea if China can provide $10 billion 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 China Development Bank, China Exim Bank and the proposed Infrastructure Development Fund along with the World Bank”.
To work out ways of achieving that, Obasanjo recommended that Sino-Africa relations should strike a strategic partnership in the area of grant, short- and medium-term concessional loan and long-term loan.
He advised that this should cover critical areas like education, skill acquisition and capacity development, infrastructure and trade.
The former in his keynote speech suggested that education should be covered mostly by grant through official development aid assistance, while trade and infrastructure could be covered by concessional short- and medium-term loan and long-term loans.
He hailed China for speedily redeeming its population from poverty within a short period of time. According to him between 1981 and 2012 about 500million Chinese were taken out of poverty by the Chinese government.
Obasanjo praises the impact of Chairman Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping who he said carried out the reforms that threw up China to the ladder of super economic .
He noted that the incumbent President of China, Xi Jinping has taken the country higher and has deepened democracy and good governance in the country . Obasanjo charged African countries to emulate China in the area of initiating and sustaining programmes and laws that promote peace and good governance.
The former President said “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”.
Obasanjo counseled China to strengthen its relationship with Africa through investments , financial support finance , technology transfer and training, tourism and cultural exchange.
He said “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”.