Nigeria's Buhari to Ask China's Xi to Restart Stalled Rail Work

  • Nigerian President to meet with Xi in Johannesburg this week
  • Buhari wants China to finance as least $20.3 billion

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week to discuss restarting stalled rail projects in Africa’s biggest oil producer under new agreements that would see China provide the bulk of at least $20.3 billion in funding.

Buhari is scheduled to hold talks with Xi on the sidelines of the Dec. 4-5 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg to follow up on previous discussions the two had over Nigeria’s dilapidated rail network, Garba Shehu, a Nigerian presidential spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

“Of particular interest is the coastal railway project stretching for 1,402 kilometers (871 miles) linking Lagos in the west with Calabar in the east; a project that is expected to be financed with a $12 billion Chinese loan and which will create about 200,000 jobs,” Shehu said. “Another rail project that will be up for renegotiation is the $8.3 billion Lagos-Kano standard gauge modernization project, of which only a segment, Kaduna-Abuja has reached completion stage.”

Xi is currently embarking on a five-day trip to Africa at a time when the continent is suffering more than anywhere else from China’s slowing economic growth and the associated rout in the value of the region’s commodity exports. Trade between China and Africa slumped 18 percent in the first nine months of 2015 from a year earlier.

Nigeria’s finances have also been hit by last year’s plunge in oil prices, with economic growth set to slow to 3.9 percent this year from 6.3 percent in 2014, according to the median estimate of 10 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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