Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s ongoing three-day visit to Nigeria is expected to boost cooperation between China and the West African country, said officials and analysts.
The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie, said in an interview with Xinhua that “Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa while China is the biggest developing country in the world, and the relationship between Nigeria and China has been very cordial.”
According to him, “The trade between China and Nigeria is growing rapidly, and people of the two countries have solid relationship.”
Gu said, Li’s visit would strengthen mutual political trust, as well as expand bilateral cooperation in various fields, noting that Nigeria has its urgent needs in infrastructure development, energy and hydropower.
China has been a leading partner of Nigeria in developing new infrastructure and rehabilitating the existing ones.
“Through this visit, the leaders of the two countries will reach a consensus on the development of bilateral relations, which will also create a good environment for economic, trade and investment cooperation,” he added.
Li arrived in Abuja earlier on Tuesday for a visit to Nigeria, the second leg of his first Africa visit since he took office in 2013.
The Chinese premier is scheduled to attend the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa and meet African leaders in the Nigerian capital.
During his stay, Premier Li and his delegation are also expected to work together with the Nigerian government to further strengthen their cooperation in the economic field.
“From the economic perspective, China-Africa cooperation brings China necessary resources for economic development and brings Africa inexpensive but nice products,” Li Zhibiao, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said before Li’s visit.
Wole Akande, a Nigeria-born international economic expert, said the strength of Chinese delegation to the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa “is an indication of the seriousness which Beijing attaches to its economic relationship with Africa, and Nigeria in particular.”
Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo said the established Nigeria-China Joint Commission is to be upgraded to enhance closer economic ties.
The Vice President said, “Nigeria currently stands as the third biggest trading partner with China in Africa and is aspiring to be the biggest one.”
Besides economic cooperation, cultural and educational exchange programs between the two countries have also contributed immensely to their blossoming ties.