The quantum of investment in the Nigerian economy by Chinese companies has hit $20bn, the President, China Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria, Mr Ye Shuijin, has disclosed. He explained that the 160 Chinese firms operating in the country had also employed over 200,000 Nigerians, noting that the companies were promoting what he called the ‘people to people’ cultural diplomacy of the Belt and Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Shuijin, who is the Managing Director, China Geo-Engineering Company, stated that his company, which was established in Nigeria in 1983, has offices in 30 states.
He said that CGC, a construction firm, had faced and surmounted various challenges, adding that the improved infrastructure development in the country, however, was encouraging many more Chinese businessmen and firms to invest in the economy. He said, “I believe the Chinese investment in Nigeria now is about $20b and we have employed over 200,000 Nigerians. Our workforce is 95 per cent Nigerians.
“We also worked with the Industrial Training Fund to train over 1,000 Nigerians last year and we have similarly trained 350 Nigerians in agriculture export. We have sponsored 30 students to China on scholarship as part of our advanced capacity building for Nigerians.”
The CGC boss insisted that members of the Chinese Chambers of Commerce were held to the strictest standards in service delivery. Shuijin noted that the Chinese investors faced a difficult time during the 2015 recession, stating that many companies could not pay their workers because they were owed by the Federal Government.
When asked if the FG had paid off its debts to the Chinese firms handling various projects, Shuijin stated, “The government still owe us for the Murtala Muhammed expressway project in Abuja which was completed in 2010. In 2015, we faced payment issues because of the recession, but what we did was to ensure the payment of our members of staff, not only CGC but all our chamber’s members.”
He added, “Many Chinese companies had to bring in money from China to pay their workers. The recession almost wiped off Chinese companies in Nigeria. At the end of 2016, the government commenced payment, but we still have many challenges.” The Chinese Chambers President refuted reports that ex-prison inmates were being brought into the country to work as expatriates, insisting that it was not possible to do such a thing, adding that the Chinese embassy monitored the Chinese companies.
Commenting on the allegation of land-grabbing levelled against the Ogun-Guandong Free Trade Zone by the host community, Shuijin advised the parties to engage in dialogue over the issue or seek legal redress.