Tony O. Elumelu, African business leader and philanthropist and Chairman of Heirsholdings has joined President Goodluck Jonathan in the high powered business delegation to China from 11 to 12 July 2013.
President Goodluck Jonathan and Tony Elumelu and other Nigerian business leaders such as Folorunso Alakija, Femi Otedola and Oba Otudeko will meet China’s President Xi Jinping and pitch business to him.
President Jonathan will show his commitment to leveraging the private sector to drive both development and trade and investment links between China and Africa in the visit seen as representing Nigeria’s business interests with the aggressive Asian country.
According to President Jonathan: “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.”
The president was speaking at the investment forum in China, 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 Gooduck Jonathan yesterday in Beijing invited senior executives of several Chinese conglomerates to a meeting aimed at initiating fresh investments in Nigeria and increasing the existing ones.
Jonathan is also signing several trade treaties to boost Nigeria-China relations especially in areas such as manufacturing, trade, finance agriculture, defence and communications.
The investment forum was attended by top officials from Huawei Technologies Limited, ZTE Corporation, China Great Wall Industries, China Harbour Engineering Corporation. China Railway Construction Corporation and the State Grid Corporation of China.
Many are questions if this meetings will amount to an influx of Chinese traders in the country and hamper Nigeria’s infant manufacturing industry and Buy Nigerian policy.
Elumelu, said: “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.