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How $1.1b Chinese Loan Will Affect Nigerians, By Okonjo-Iweala

Published by Guardian on Sun, 16 Sep 2012

THE projects for which the $1.1 billion credit from the Chinese Exim Bank is being contracted will have great impact on the lives of many Nigerians, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, explained at the weekend.The Minister also disclosed that the need to deliver services that would impact lives at very low cost was the spirit behind the Federal Government's decision to go for the loan facility.The loan comes on concessionary terms that make the money almost free when compared with the cost of funds from Nigerian banks.Okonjo-Iweala's explanation is contained in a statement issued by her Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, in response to reactions by some Nigerians over the agreement signed with the Chinese bank last Wednesday.According to the statement, 'this update is being issued in response to many enquiries received by the Ministry on the $1.1 billion soft credit recently obtained by the Federal Government from the Exim Bank of China for (specific) projects.'Please note the following: One of the new airport terminals will be located in Lagos, the commercial hub of the country, which experiences more air traffic than any other city. The terms at which the soft credit was obtained are very favourable. It is a concessional credit obtained at 2.5 percent interest, compared to about 16 percent or higher from Nigerian banks. The repayment period is 20 years with a grace period of seven years.'The projects, according to Nwabuikwu, are high-priority and high-impact ones, which are designed to have practical economic effect and make life better and more convenient for Nigerians from all socio-economic groups.'For instance, the Abuja light rail project in the Federal Capital Territory will significantly improve the lives of Nigerians, especially those in the lower socio-economic groups, who have to travel great distances from their homes on the outskirts to their places of work in the city.One part of the intra-city rail network will extend from the city centre to Kubwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The second will run from the city centre to Masaka in Nassarawa State. Both are high density, high traffic routes.'The new airport terminals will help Nigeria achieve the status of a hub on the continent and create jobs. The terminals will also help to grow passenger capacity to over 50 million from the current 20 million and increase the number of direct and indirect jobs in the sector to 1.5 million from the current 60,000.''The Galaxy Backbone, will boost the sophistication and effectiveness of the government's efforts to tackle security challenges and improve connectivity to modern technology, especially for Nigerian youths in underserved rural areas,' the Minister further posited.
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