On November 28th, Nigeria newspaper THIS DAY published an article titled Made in Nigeria – with China written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. Zhou Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:
Made in Nigeria – with China
Zhou Pingjian, Ambassador of China to Nigeria
The 2016 Africa Industrilization Day has come and gone-with little notice in Nigeria.
Within the framework of the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (1991-2000), the UN General Assembly, in 1989, proclaimed 20 November Africa Industrialization Day. The Day is intended to mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa. Regrettably, despite all those efforts the ratio of manufacturing industry to the GDP of African nations has declined from about 10.8% in 1980s to 8.5% in the 21st century according to World Bank statistics. I believe Nigerians know this all too well.
Looking at the modern history of world economic development and the experiences of China and many other countries, we can say for sure that industrialization is an inevitable path to a country’s economic success. “There is clearly no better way to achieve this (diversify the economy) without building our economic foundation on made in Nigeria goods and services,” said President Buhari while declaring open the Nigeria Economic Summit last month in Abuja, “My great desire it that Nigeria moves from import dependence to self-sufficiency in local production and become an export-led economy in goods and services.”
No wonder on 25 July 2016 the UN General Assembly, noting that Africa remains “the poorest and the most vulnerable region in the world,” unanimously adopted a resolution proclaiming the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa. The Assembly highlighted the need for the continent to take “urgent action to advance sustainable industrialization as a key element of furthering economic diversification and value addition, creating jobs and thus reducing poverty and contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Similarly, during the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China last September, the G20 for the first time committed to take collective actions to support African countries and the least developed countries in their industrialization, which fits with the full implementation of the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit as well. China-Africa industrialization plan is the very first among ten cooperation plans put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the FOCAC Summit last year in South Africa.
Nigeria’s path of industrialization can only be found by Nigerian people through their own practice and exploration. Yet good company on the road is the shortest cut. China is a most desirable and reliable long-term partner for Nigeria to achieve industrialization. As I always say during my interactions with Nigerian friends, the “Made in Nigeria” project will go a long way for Nigeria and will go strong while an initiative of “Made in Nigeria – with China” might be of some help. It is China’s sincere hope to share its experience with Nigeria, and we are willing to provide capital, technology and personnel in support of Nigeria’s industrialization.
President Buhari and the Federal Government maintain that the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprises Development Programme (NEDEP) present a clear road map towards an industrialized Nigerian economy. I am so pleased to learn that China is positively mentioned many times in the NIRP report with page 23 almost wholly dedicated to “learnings from China”.
China is now the world’s largest manufacturing country and second largest economy. It has never been easy for China to probe for an industrialization path suited to its national conditions. For the past century and a half, China has gone through a hard and tortuous journey of industrialization. Back in the mid-19th century, the overwhelming military might of foreign powers forced China to open its door and began what was called “Self-Strengthening Movement” in an early form of industrialization. Since the start of the reform and opening-up 38 years ago, China has embarked on a fast track of industrialization. Within a short span of several decades, China has accomplished and put in place a complete industrial system with an enormous production capacity.
Today in Asokoro Abuja, there is a Deng Xiaoping Street. Mr. Deng, the late Chinese leader, was the chief architect of China’s reform and opening-up initiative. It was under Deng’s leadership that China opened up its door to the world in late 1978.
Looking at China’s journey of industrialization, we have keenly recognized that industrialization cannot be achieved behind closed doors. Industrialization in the age of economic globalization requires that we take full advantage of both domestic and international markets and both home and overseas resources, put our comparative advantages to the best use and realize the global allocation of resources. Moreover, we should draw on as much as possible the experience of the advanced countries and choose an industrialization path suited to our own national features and conditions. It is entirely possible for Nigeria to bring into play its advantages and achieve great success.
The NIRP report identifies China as a major opportunity for Nigeria to become a regional manufacturing hub, “As China moves into higher technology products, which require higher skilled better paid workers, we have witnessed manufacturing plants in low and medium technology areas moving out of China, into Thailand and Vietnam, as a result of rising wages in China. Nigeria also stands in line to benefit from this shift because of our large workforce and access to strategic markets. NIRP is implementing the right framework and incentives to target such industries.” I could not agree with NIRP more on this observation.
China ranks the first in the world in the output of over 200 industrial products. Nigeria needs manufacturing and industrial development, whereas China has fairly strong capabilities in financing and cost-effective spare production capacity in these fields. Each has so much to offer to the other side. Cooperation based on such complementarity and mutual benefit will give an even stronger boost to China and Nigeria’s respective development.
According to China’s National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, China is committed to deepening international cooperation on industrial capacity and equipment manufacturing, helping other developing countries to improve production system building and achieve diversification of industrial production. China supports the relocation of labor-intensive industries to Nigeria on a priority basis and the localization of Chinese companies to create more non-agricultural jobs, especially those suited to the young people. During President Buhari’s successful state visit to China last April, the two sides signed a MOU on industry, production capacity and investment cooperation and a forum for this purpose was also held in Beijing.