ABUJA (Reuters) – China’s Exim bank will lend Nigeria $328 million toward improving the west African country’s telecoms infrastructure, Nigeria’s presidency said on Saturday, at the start of a six-day visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to the country.
Poor telecoms are a major challenge for businesses operating in Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest oil producer, most populous country and has one of the continent’s largest economies.
The agreement, the latest in a number of Chinese loan facilities to Nigeria since Buhari took office in 2015, comes as Beijing seeks to deepen its ties in Africa.
Nigeria’s presidency, in an emailed statement, described the loan as between Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone and China’s Huawei
Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of the network equipment used by phone and Internet companies.
Huawei was founded in southern China in the late 1980s by a former military officer, Ren Zhengfei, who is Meng’s father. In the years since, the company’s growth has tracked China’s emergence as an economic superpower.
Today, Huawei has 170,000 employees operating in 170 countries.
It said the agreement was part of “the current administration’s commitment to incorporating the development of information and communications technology into national strategic planning”.
Buhari’s administration has said it wants to improve the country’s technology infrastructure to boost growth and create jobs as it seeks to reduce reliance on oil sales, which make up around two thirds of government revenues.
Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Andrew Roche and Alexandra Hudson