Reasons why Nigeria should partner with China on a win-win deal -- Africhina CEO - SyCtRenDs



Monday, November 5, 2018

Reasons why Nigeria should partner with China on a win-win deal -- Africhina CEO

Odeh Change is the CEO of Africhina

Odeh Change is the CEO of Africhina which has projects tailored towards finding solutions to critical economic problems facing Nigeria and Africa in general. In this interview he tells us why Nigeria must partner with China on a fair, win-win deal, and a model they’ve come up with aimed at driving and promoting investment, trade and cultural interests between Africa and China.

China is not the conventional business ally of Nigeria, why do you think it is essential to partner with them?

China’s model of business is not a conventional one because they are a closed system, so they don’t play by what we are familiar with. One basic thing we have to consider is that China is a country doing business at the international frontline and just like any other economy, every time you cross the oceans they are subject to the laws of international trade. This is where Nigeria must come up with trade policies because we must set the tone for the demand and ensure that countries meet up with our terms of demand.

We must also set the tone and ensure that we are not a dumping ground for whatever products they feel like sending to us because China is so open to whatever idea and whatever quality of product you want. I think policy makers in African countries must insist for some standard to ensure that nobody is breaking the policies; I think it is about time.

The Federal Government, in trying to promote indigenous goods, is closing the borders. With organizations like yours trying to encourage trade partnerships between countries, how is that working out?

That policy of closing borders is a fantastic policy and I strongly believe in it because the truth is that China is looking for emerging markets to offload their excess capacity. China is becoming too full that they need to offload so they are looking for partners, countries that have the right policies for them to move their manufacturing base. So Chinese companies are looking for countries in Africa where they can go and find right deals, right opportunities; where they can go and set up their manufacturing base. We have a lot of them in Ethiopia, Egypt, South Africa. So it is a fantastic model by government and it works for the Chinese.

How will the language barrier be bridged?

That is where our interest in culture comes into play. Culture is so cardinal in this transfer in the sense that we create the platform where the supply chain is created and in that process we at Africhina are planning to set up a school where the different relating languages will be taught. Also, both cultures will be exchanged. We have begun to expose the Nigeria film industry, Nollywood, in China because the entertainment industry is very powerful in promoting culture.

How about difficulty in accessing VISA?

That is a big challenge that African countries are facing. I believe for now the process of securing visa is not fair, especially when you consider the president of China’s policy on win-win; a policy where everybody has to win. The diplomacy in that direction is faulty because a good number of Africans who want to explore the Chinese market have being denied because of the conditions attached to visa processing. So I strongly believe that African government should step into that and discuss further on policies of visas.

 Given Africa’s huge population, how can we use it as an advantage?

Yes Africa has over 1.2 billion population today, good number. I think that leaders of African nations should see it as one if the greatest assets that we have, asset in the sense that the work force is very key in the production chain. I give an instance about number in statistics by the Africa Development Bank, which showed that 62 percent of empty land in the world resides in Africa, but the irony is yet Africans are hungry; insufficiency of food, the primary, commonest food.

We have over 1.2 billion work force and 62 percent empty land in the world. Imagine how Africa would have fed every other part of the world: countries of the world coming to buy food from Africa. So the leaderships should look at these numbers and how we create our policies. Governments are not doing enough, they have to go back to the drawing board and see how to utilize the numbers that we have.

How are you promoting Nigerian products in China?

Like I said, the trade platform promotes African-made products in China, for instance agricultural products. We also promote and showcase solid minerals. So these and many others are showcased to over 1.2 billion of China’s population. And their response has been very positive and encouraging. All we need to do is for government to make investments in those sectors, in the sense of building and providing facilities to reprocess these products to international standard.

Most times the mode by which these products are made does not meet with international standard so government must empower players in that sector, because it also attracts foreign exchange for the country.

How much do you think Nigeria can make from partnering with China?

Nigeria has a lot for its market for China on a fair, win-win deal; it has to be win-win. Every deal maker wants to take advantage so it is not unreasonable that most times we see Chinese wants to take advantage. Where Nigeria or other African countries open up there is a lot to benefit because China has excess capacity in infrastructure and these are some of the resources that we need. These people have excess capacity to provide electricity, roads that we need and other sectors.

Should Nigeria be collecting loans from China, given its conditions?

I don’t think taking loans is the problem, I think the condition and what they are meant for is the worry. If you take loans for productive sectors what it means is that those loans have the ability to pay themselves. That why I think it is important for the private sector to be part of some of those deals because capital investments that are viable can naturally pay themselves off, so our ability to identify and source loans for such investments is essential.

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