Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday on a visit focused on boosting trade between Asia’s powerhouse economy and Africa’s biggest oil producer.
Jonathan was accompanied by 19 of his top government officials on the trip, as he attempts to tie up a series of deals on Chinese investment in major Nigerian infrastructure projects.
“(China) has a very robust economy and that is why when I was coming, I came with quite an amount of cabinet ministers and very senior government functionaries,” he told Xi as the pair met at Beijing’s ornate Great Hall of the People.
Chinese companies are involved in a massive road-building project in Nigeria worth $1.7 billion.
Talks between Jonathan and Xi are also expected to cover some $1.3 billion worth of Chinese loans and other funding for Nigerian infrastructure projects.
Beijing is also showing increasing interest in Nigeria’s oil industry, and is expected to increase its demand from the current 20,000 to 200,000 barrels per day by 2015.
“Both China and Nigeria are now working hard to accelerate our respective development,” Xi said, at the welcome ceremony held indoors due to heavy rain in the Chinese capital.
Following the meeting between Xi and Jonathan, five agreements were signed between the two countries, including a lending agreement between China’s Import-Export Bank and the Nigerian Ministry of Finance for the expansion of four airport terminals.
Agreements were also signed on visa regulations, legal issues involving the import and export of cultural properties, and economic and technical cooperation.
China Development Bank and Nigeria’s First Bank also signed a framework agreement in support of Nigerian economic development.
China has invested heavily in African nations in recent years in its search for natural resources and markets for its goods.
It has had mixed success in Nigeria, particularly concerning oil, where Western firms such as Shell and ExxonMobil continue to dominate.
Oil accounts for some 80 percent of government revenue in Nigeria.