What Happens when Africa Meets Asia?

For the past years, China has openly expanded its relations with Africa. The scale and scope of contemporary Chinese engagement and interest in Africa is unprecedented and hardly new. For the past two decades, China has demonstrated its interest in areas of investment, finance, development, trade, training and technology transfer, cultural exchange and tourism. Clearly, a wide area of the continent has poor infrastructure, in need of financial assistance, and most of all has a lot of useful resources. In exchange, China has all the assistance to offer, and Africa has more than enough resources to support China’s booming economy. This assets and liability combination and balance have strongly fostered the relations between China and Africa.


Its increased investment and economic interest in Africa have been under scrutiny because a large number of people have not really understood what the actual interest is. Some say that this interest is headed towards exploiting the African resources like the Western countries did decades ago. This has raised many questions about whether China is planning to colonize, partner in development, or exploit Africa.


However, the relationship between China and Africa began back in 1955. This was during the Bandung conference. As a result of its deteriorating ties with the Soviet Union, its relationship with Africa began to grow deeper towards the end of the 1950s. China then began to search for allies in the African soil to establish a counterbalance weight to Western imperialism and Soviet hegemony. In the early 1980s, that was when its relationship with Africa plummeted. That indulgence shifted focus to economic development in Africa. China’s involvement with Africa has never been a threat to any country in the continent. First, China has always had the willingness to invest where the western world is unwilling. Secondly, its government has never had any cases of imposing political conditions on African governments while signing any contract.


One major African country that has had relations with China is Nigeria. There have been bilateral relations between the two countries, and these have been based on bilateral trade and strategic corporation. In fact, Nigeria considers China as the most important trading partner. In the latest occurrence, during Nigeria’s president Mohammadu Buhari’s election address, China expressed huge interest in the country. The Nigerian president expressly said that Boko Haram was a big challenge to the country, and would be his priority in his reign.


In response to Buhari’s address, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said that China would support Nigeria and play a positive role in helping the country fight terrorism. Abuja holds the third largest economy in Africa after only Angola and South Africa. It has a very strong market potential in energy resources that China simply could not ignore.


Since Nigeria and China established strategic relations one decade ago, bilateral trade levels between them have exponentially increased. So far, most Nigerian regions have greatly benefited from Chinese infrastructure improvements including the Abuja-Kaduna railway, and Abuja Light Rail. As electrical energy in Nigeria shifts from public to private, different methods of generating power have been sought for development. That includes hydro, electric and other forms of renewable energy. So far, China has openly taken advantage of the electrical needs in this country to transform its power grid.



The History of Nigerian and Chinese Relations

Until eleven years after independence, Nigeria had not established any diplomatic relations with china. However, when Mao Zedong, an iconic Chinese communist, gave military support to the Biafra administration, which was a secessionist state, Nigeria’s view of china grew, marking the beginning of the history of Nigerian and Chinese relations.

How China Become Nigeria’s Top Trading Partner

During the 70s and 80s, international trade in Nigeria was chiefly conducted with European and North American partners. This was so until the reign of General Abacha (1993-1998) when more and more of Beijing’s development projects started to be received well in Nigeria. This come about after the country’s top leadership grew resentful of their Western partner’s conditions for investment and aid and opted for China’s no strings attached projects.

The Growth of Bilateral Relations

Since 2000, the annual Nigerian-Chinese trade has continued to grow at significant rates. By 2010, the rate had increased from $2 billion to $18 billion, a nine-fold increase. Also, during the same period, well over 10 significant bilateral trade agreements between the two nations were signed.

Although U.S and India make the two most important trading partners for Nigeria, in 2012, China topped as the largest importer of goods to Nigeria. It imported into Nigeria more goods than the other two countries combined.

As of now, well over 200 Chinese firms have set base in Nigeria. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, during a visit to Beijing, signed nine MoUs with the Chinese government, with Nigeria agreeing to boost its daily supply of oil to the country ten-fold by 2015 in exchange for a soft loan of $1.1 billion from the Chinese government.

Terrorism and Strategic Cooperation

The recent wave of extremist groups in Nigeria poses a great threat to regional stability and vital trade relations with China. Escalated conflicts between the country’s military and Boko Haram have heightened political risk for everyone and largely foreign investors.

And as the United States and other Western countries continue to hesitate in offering their support, the Nigerian government has since continued to develop close military ties with China.

Currently, china supplies Nigeria’s armed forces with equipment, arms, technology and training. This not only helps to strongly fight the insurgents but also to protect its oil-rich resources such as Niger Delta. This was actually evident when China pledged its support in assisting the Nigerian government’s search for the 276 abducted school girls through satellite intelligence.

On the whole, this is one of the many areas in which both countries cooperate and strengthen their ties.

Commerce and Economic Relations

Liu Kan, who is the Chinese Consul General based in Nigeria, in a recent March 2015 interview with Vanguard, discussed the increasing China-Nigeria trade levels. He said that bilateral trade levels between the two nations had reached $18.1 billion by 2014, with 88% of the total trade taking place in non-petroleum sectors.

Some of the projects by Chinese firms that have revolutionized infrastructure in the country include the Abuja-Kaduna railway, the Abuja Light Rail and the Lagos Rail Mass Transit System.

Still, the Nigerian government has continued to sign more infrastructural contracts with Chinese firms, the most recent one being the construction of a modern train system connecting Lagos to Calabar.

Other sectors that have also benefited largely from the bilateral relations between the two countries include the energy sector, tourism sector, education sector and agricultural sector.


China has expressed its hopes to achieve $400 billion from its trade with Africa and increase its direct investment in the continent to $100 by 2020. Nigeria is among the top countries that stands to gain largely from these.

2016 will mark the 45th anniversary of the history of Nigerian and Chinese relations. And looking at all these recent developments, it’s safe to say that diplomatic and bilateral ties between the two countries can only get better and stronger.

Nigerian Foreign Relations

Nigeria’s relations with China have improved in the last decade. Initially, the relationship was characterized by intermittent contacts that contributed towards a complex relationship. Nigeria viewed China as a nonaligned developing nation and did little to improve its business and diplomatic relationships with China. Instead, Nigeria focused on establishing sound relationships with European and North American counties. The increasing presence of China in Nigeria spurred speculations about the emerging relationship.

The Nigerian Dimension in China’s Foreign Policy

Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives conception of China is derived from its take on the global cardinal objectives. They include:

  • Creation of a secured economic development environment
  • Creation of more trade and investment outlets with China
  • Reassuring the states in the country that the rise of China is not a threat to the country
  • Securing and diversifying access to resources and energy supplies.

The Evolution of Trade and Diplomatic Ties between Nigeria and China

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the relationship between China and Nigeria has improved. Nigeria has seen China as a source of direct support in national liberation movements. Being a self-styled frontline state, Nigeria has served as a facilitator of liberation fight against white led regimes. Its perceptions have strengthened its relationships with China.

The Volume of trade between China and Nigeria has been growing. Nigeria has continued to trade with China and currently, China has secured several contracts with many Nigerian Oil companies. Nigeria also obtains sponsorship from China in form of low-interest loans and development projects. Trade between Nigeria has increased from 1.3 billion naira in 1990 to 5.3 billion naira in 1996 and the figure has been increasing. With the Chinese aid, trade and corporate social responsibility, Nigeria has been able to record a reduction in poverty and in addition, its economic growth has been improving. The country’s growth can be analyzed in relation to 5 sets of variables and they are provided below;

Policy choices

Policy makers in Nigeria explain that the current economic policies in the country trace their history to China. From their reviews, China is a country to emulate because its growth rate is one of the biggest not only in Asia but also across the world. The economic policies that helped in industrializing China are applicable in transforming Nigerian sectors such as Agriculture.


Nigeria has obtained assistance from China in the transformation of its institutions. As such, it has been able to achieve a free market that encourages investment and transfer of resources.


Many Nigerian businesspersons have learnt new business policies and they have adopted the Chinese models of doing business. The government also encourages the establishment of joint venture with Chinese firms.

Human capital

Chinese labor is cheap and they have been used in the creation of development projects in Nigeria. The Chinese human capital has also been significant in the transfer of technological skills and education from China to Nigeria.


Leadership is an important factor in development. Nigerians have made China’s engagement a priority in the transformation of leadership in the country. Nigeria counts on the good leadership in China and it is hopeful that by adopting China's leadership policies, its economic goals shall be attained.

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How Embassies Work


It is inevitable to visit embassies, also known as permanent diplomatic mission for most of us as part of international travel. Whether you are renewing your visa or have some other documents to process, locating these buildings is quite a task. Embassies are not just located anywhere, or within central business districts like most government offices. Embassies sit on territories that are immune from laws applying locally.

Origin of Embassies

Modern embassies have come as a result of early European civilizations trying to keep open alliances and communications with one another. The first sets of modern diplomatic ranks were established in 1815. There were huge contradictions over what it meant exactly for diplomats until it was formalized in 1961 during the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations. Therefore, diplomats were established before the embassies. Traditionally, diplomatic relations were opened by foreign envoys visits usually to surrender or declare peace at the end of a war. Envoys enjoyed immunity and they could not be stabbed or shot to be able to deliver the message. As such, diplomatic immunity has continued up to modern times.

Placement of Embassies

Embassies do not only serve functional purposes but also to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. According to Atlantic Cities, a group of renowned embassy designers, a balance has to be struck between isolation and civic engagement. An embassy has to represent the values of its mother country in design and functionality. On top of that, it has to show off the prestige, culture and heritage of their mother countries. Embassies built in busier parts of a city tend to blend in more than those built in the outskirts. Security consideration is another factor since embassies hold very sensitive information.

Embassy Row

Majority of the capital cities in the world have embassy rows. This is a zone specifically meant for placing foreign diplomatic missions together. Such areas have been zoned by local authorities since they pose favorable conditions for placement of embassies. Land to build an embassy is sold through normal places at current market prices. However, it is not possible for individuals to own land in such areas due to security considerations.

Embassies located within city centers occupy prime real estate which is significantly more expensive than the other locations. When it comes to deciding where to place an embassy, the main considerations are land availability and cost.

Countries that have vast amounts of money such as United States, France, Germany, and Russia tend to show it with complex style buildings occupying huge chunks of land. Countries which have closer ties or working to build closer working relationships tend to place their embassies close together.

Movement of Embassies

Once in a while, countries decide to move their foreign diplomatic missions to more conspicuous or secure locations. When this happens, the land is either returned to the host country or sold privately. Such sales are very hard to take through due to the complex processing of information required. In most situations, countries do not get back their investment. Another trend which is gaining popularity in modern times is for countries sharing embassy buildings such as Germany and France in Bangladesh.


There are more than 100 embassies and consulates hosted by most countries at any one time. Embassies are meant to strengthen relationships between countries. They also make processing of information and travel documents easy.

Being Nigerian in a Foreign Land

The reasons for being in a foreign country may be different. People travel because of different purposes which include;

  • Business
  • Education
  • Leisure/Vacations
  • Marital status change

Travelling to foreign countries has become easier over the past few decades compared to how things used to be. Whatever your reason for travel may be, you will definitely hope for a great experience in any other country you visit.

Being Nigerian in a foreign land can bring mixed feelings and reactions. Nigeria is a beautiful country with people who are welcoming and has a very diverse culture. While in a foreign country, your prayer and hope is to get the same treatment you are used to back at home. But it is always important to leave room for any sort of change because all countries are different and with different cultures and beliefs. Being Nigerian in a foreign land, you should be ready for a totally different experience from what you are used to back at home.

There are some obvious things that will be different from what you are used to. One major thing will be the culture of the people in that country. All countries have different cultures and different ways of doing things. It is of great importance you have an open mind and welcome the culture of the country you are in. As the ancient saying points out, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Always embrace the culture of that country positively. You will find that this will greatly help you in adapting to the new country easily. You may be surprised to find that maybe there are some ways and beliefs you share with the people in the foreign country.

There will always be challenges you will encounter while in a foreign country. A positive mind towards everything will go a long way in helping you face these challenges. You will have an easy time once you are positive about things. Some of the challenges may be a different culture as mentioned before and communication. But thank God for international languages like English and French. Communication may not be such a big challenge.

Nigeria has great relations with different countries all over the world. From North America to Europe to other African countries to the Middle East countries. Take an example of the great relationship China and Nigeria have. China has greatly invested positively in Nigeria and this has gone a long way in ensuring great relations between the two countries.

You will find that being a Nigerian in China can be quite a challenge but with time you will adopt. China is a very welcoming country and the people are very warm too. Adapting to the country will be different for different Nigerians but with time you will learn to appreciate the country and its people and relate well with them.

Have an open mind and be kind to the people you interact with. This will ease your stay in any foreign country. If you are looking for a great experience when in a different country, it should start from yourself. If you treat the people well, they will be sure to treat you well in return. As time goes by, you will find it easy to relate to the people and also have a great experience during your stay in the foreign land.

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