Posted by News Express | 12 July 2013 | 7,640 times
LAGOS, Nigeria, July 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – African business leader and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu joins President Goodluck Jonathan as part of a high powered delegation accompanying the Nigerian leader on a state visit to China from 11 to 12 July 2013.
The visit, which will include a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, will have Mr Elumelu and other business leaders, including Folorunso Alakija, Femi Otedola and Oba Otudeko, representing Nigeria’s business interests, thus emphasising President Jonathan’s commitment to leveraging the private sector to drive both development and trade and investment links between China and Africa.
Speaking at the investment forum, which attracted over 700 potential investors, their Nigerian counterparts and several governors as well as the Ministers for Trade and Investment, Aviation and Power, President Jonathan said:
“Nigeria today is like China 20 years ago – it is entering into a high growth phase. The economy is suitable for private sector involvement; we offer the best incentives and we have put the right structures in place to reduce the cost of entry into Nigeria. All of this is to encourage private sector participation in Nigeria.”
Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the pan-African proprietary investment company, commented further: “The China-Africa relationship has historically been characterised by government-to-government engagement. However, Nigeria’s leadership – and increasingly that of a number of African countries – is embracing an Africapitalist approach where the private sector is leading transformative growth. China’s presence in Africa is important, but we would like that involvement to be more inclusive of the private sector to ensure a sustainable development path for the continent.”
Elumelu’s call comes on the back of the Chinese government’s drive to minimize its role in its own economy and reform state owned enterprises (SOE), which are still dominant. However, private sector companies are increasingly contributing to China’s overall GDP growth and the Chinese government is creating policies that will allow them to flourish.
“Globally, there is powerful evidence that the private sector is critical in driving a country’s economic growth and China is recognising that locally,” said Elumelu. “We hope President Jonathan’s state visit will mark the start of a private sector-driven approach to China-Africa bilateral relations. The onus is now on us as African business leaders to ensure that future engagements will call for, and unlock opportunities for the private sector.”
According to the OECD, trade between China and Nigeria reached nearly US$18 billion in 2010, almost ten times more than just a decade ago.
During the visit, Mr Elumelu met with leading Chinese investors and business people to raise awareness of the numerous strategic projects under development in Nigeria and the opportunities for investment that they present.
•Photo courtesy State House, Abuja, shows part of the Nigerian delegation with Chinese officials.
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