Yunana Elijah, a diplomatic and international consultant is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Myyesman. In this interview with ENE OSHABA, he discusses China/Africa relationship, and how the partnership is benefitting Nigeria’s economy.
Why do you think China is helping in building Africa, most especially Nigeria?
You know the bilateral relationship between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and People’s Republic of China were formally established in 1971, a decade after Nigeria gained its independence from the British Empire. Relations between Nigeria and China have expanded on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation. China is considered one of Nigeria’s closest allies and partners. China is also one of Nigeria’s important trading and export partners.
Although Nigeria maintains trade relations with Taiwan, and has a representative office in Taipei, it issued a joint communiqué with China in 2005, reaffirming that Beijing was “the only legitimate government representing the whole of China and Taiwan is an unalienable part of its territory”.
China is helping in building Africa to bridge the infrastructural deficit and China is looking to have more friends from Africa.
They have supported in building Nigeria in the Health sector especially during the COVID-19 lockdown with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
China has also supported Nigeria in the construction industry.
Would you say Nigeria has benefitted from China’s belt and road initiative for Africa?
Since Nigeria joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and became a member at a summit in Beijing in 2018, Nigeria has recorded several developments as Africa’s largest economy and the most populous nation on the African continent.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a Chinese proposal to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with related countries.
The Initiative focuses on promoting policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure and facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties through a consultative process and joint efforts with the goal of bringing benefits to all.
Nigeria is among the 44 African countries that have signed the memorandum of understanding with Beijing, in furtherance of the BRI partnership.
The Initiative provides African countries including Nigeria to build their own infrastructure, for example about 60% of money earmarked for Africa in the Forum On China- Africa Corporation (FOCAC) 2018 Nigeria got the highest part of that money. Imagine if Nigeria was not part of the Belt and Road initiative we wouldn’t have gotten such opportunity. I believe it is a good initiative.
Nigeria should continue bilateral relationship with China because there is more to benefit in terms of the economy, market, technology etc. As the relationship grew as more Nigerians established business and other relationships in China.
Here in Nigeria also, a good number of Chinese multinationals and small companies operate in Nigeria. Chinese companies in Nigeria are building much needed roads and railways, airports, and telecommunications infrastructure. There are currently about 28 registered Chinese firms in Nigeria. They are involved in construction, furniture, food and beverages, beauty, and product assembling plants among others.
I call on African Countries to build a strong relationship with China because of its economic magnitude, and opportunities it offers to Countries.
What areas precisely would you say are the benefits of Africa/China Relationship?
China is all over Africa these days, building railroads, bridges, and ports, doing what European colonialists should have done long ago. This is because China is investing in Africa to place the continent on the global map, help African countries develop a sound infrastructure.
That’s what African countries need to sustain economic growth and join the global economy.
In the same vein, the dramatic growth in the relationship between Africa and China is one of the great stories of the 21st century, part of profound transformations taking place in the global political economy. It has been greeted with excitement. To its cheerleaders, it represents the enduring partnership between Nigeria and China, spawned by the historical affinities of struggles against western imperialism and humanistic aspiration for development.
Like i said before, there is a long relationship history between both countries. Looking at what is happening now with the power sector in Nigeria is benefitting from it’s Hydro Power such as the Mambila project. The Abuja, Kaduna railway is built by China, Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
Though there is debate amongst the Leaders about collecting loan from China or not but it depends on the purpose and how it’s going to be used.
Nigeria and China both celebrate October 1st as national day, how would you compare the two countries in terms of development?
Yes, Nigeria and China celebrated their Independence day on 1st October, while Nigeria is marking her 60th Anniversary of the independence, China was also celebrating her 71st anniversary of founding the republic of China.
And because of the partnership between the two countries, the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has honoured 49 Nigerian employees of Chinese companies operating in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contributions to strengthening diplomatic ties between both countries.
In terms of Development, China has extended it hand to the Nigerian Government as way of promoting friendship between both countries.
Nigeria is moving forward, one problem our fellow Nigerians try to do is comparing Nigeria with developed countries which i think is not advisable. We are a developing nation and not developed or underdeveloped so comparing Nigeria with developed countries is not the best, we are catching up gradually.
Nigeria is doing quite well though we have some lapses here and there the country is moving on a good lane but infrastructure is one cardinal problem else the level of development is good. Poor infrastructure is a cardinal problem not only in Nigeria but Africa.
Tell us more about Myyesman
Myyesman Limited is a company registered under the laws of Nigeria and having it’s businesses in Nigeria and abroad. The company is a leading international Consultant with great government resources and consultancy experience across Africa and Asia. The company specialized in African government projects, strategy development and deployment, project financing and investment promotion and has it’s foot in Abuja, Zambia, Guinea Bissau and People’s Republic of China.
Myyesman Limited has consulted and is consulting for some African government and is providing services for some foreign missions and head of Missions in Nigeria. We have worked with several Embassies and Head of Missions in Nigeria. We consult for most African countries, Asia most especially China.
What kind of consultancy services do you provide for governments?
Though the business office is in Nigeria, we have not consulted for any Nigerian project as of now but most of the job we do is for African countries and we have consulted for African government.
Here in Nigeria, we consult mostly for Head of Missions of Embassies, and we have good relationship with the Chinese government.
What is your relationship with China and its government?
As you know, the People’s Republic of China is a member of many international organisations, holding key positions such as a permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council. China’s foreign policy today is summarized as strategic relations with neighboring countries and the World’s superpowers to strive for China’s national interest, and to create a favourable environment for China’s domestic development for perpetual competition in the World .
Based on these remarkable achievements, I was motivated to build a cordial relationship with the Chinese government, because China is a friend to everybody, both the western world and Arab countries, China needs so many friends and everyone needs to be a friend of China. China is a global market were everyone is focusing.
We have a good relationship with the government officials, and some giant companies in China which we are doing well in terms of partnership to see how we can improve the economy of Africa. Myyesman has consulted for some top Chinese companies and some Chinese agency affiliated with the UN, UNIDO, Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Water Resources.
Part of the relationship is signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
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