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Businessweek
Economics

China’s Pullback on Lending Stalls Dreams of Rebuilding Nigeria

President Buhari’s legacy could be marred by Beijing’s waning appetite for costly public works abroad.

Work on the Abeokuta-Ibadan segment of Nigeria’s rail project in 2019.

Work on the Abeokuta-Ibadan segment of Nigeria’s rail project in 2019.

Source: Federal Ministry of Information and Culture

Nigeria’s outgoing president promised to leave a legacy fashioned from concrete, stone, and steel. Instead, billions in stalled financing from China is forcing him to temper his aspirations to seed the country with ambitious public works.

Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected to lead Africa’s most populous nation in 2015 on pledges to tackle a deadly Islamist insurgency, clamp down on corruption, and build critical infrastructure. With only a year left before the end of his second and final term in office, it appears he put too much faith in the appetite of Chinese lenders to fund the roads, railways, and power plants that could transform Nigeria.