Africa is going through another phase of self-imposed slavery and colonization. This is especially in the face of the aggressive buy over of the African continent by the Chinese. Yes, the Chinese.
It’s on report that all the major mining business going on right now in Zambia, a country rich in Copper, is being done by the Chinese.
Africa’s indebtedness to the Chinese has also become a source of worry to every right-thinking individual, including the major power blocks in the world. A cursory google of “Africa’s Debt to China” will tell you more of the story.
Closer home, as at December 2017, the official figures for Nigeria-China Bilateral trade stood at over $2.7bn, with the debt profile standing at over $5bn (five billion US Dollars).
This is clear case of trade imbalance, not solely brought on because of Nigeria’s inability to export alone, but also because of economic sabotage, unfair business terms between Chinese Manufacturers, and underhand dealings by Chinese businessmen.
A case that readily came to mind is that of the CIG Motors, importers of the Chinese brand of vehicles, GAC.
The demand for GAC vehicles has been on the increase in Nigeria, due to their rugged nature and functionality. Lot of Nigerians now see the GAC brand as a viable alternative to Japanese, American and European giants.
But there is a snag. According to an ongoing investigation and reports (https://aledeh.com/opinion-diana-chen-and-her-monopoly-of-gac-motors-by-fejiro-oliver/), a Chinese company in Nigeria, CIG Motors, led by one Ms. Diana Chen, has been making trade between Nigerians and the Chinese manufacturers of the vehicle brand impossible.
A Nigerian delegate visited the Management of the GAC in China sometime last year, and came back with the promise that there will be an increased trade with their Nigerian partners, only for Ms. Chen to scuttle everything.
Her primary claim is that she has the sole license to market and sell the GAC brand in Nigeria. WHAT? Who does that? Does BMW or Mercedez Benz, or Toyota, even Honda, gave license to a sole Distributor in a market like Nigeria? Where is that done?
Beyond the simple fact that the claim of sole distributorship, no Monopoly, in Nigeria is ridiculous, can any Nigerian behave in such brazen manner in China?
This is in stark contrast with the bilateral trade agreement signed by both governments of China and Nigeria. It should be noted that in spite of Nigeria’s trade with China increasing exponentially from a paltry $880m in 1998 to a staggering $3bn as at 2006, the trade between the two nations has remained disproportionately in favour of the Chinese.
As noted by Efem N. Ubi, (PhD), a Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, solving the Nigeria’s trade deficit should go have to beyond rhetoric and diplomatic meeting, with much of the solution having to come from the Nigerian end.
In the four key factors he mentioned, one of them is that the Chinese government has to declare its readiness to encourage Chinese companies to outsource and offshore to Nigeria.
What this simply implies is that we cannot be claiming to be involved in Nigeria-Chinese trade when Nigerian business communities has been handicapped from the start to trade on common platform, as seen in the case of the GAC Motors/CIG edging out Nigerian businessmen in the Motor manufacturing industry trade.
There are other economic implications for Nigeria as well. It is understood that due to the monopoly that Ms. Diana Chen and her CIG Motors enjoys, she has been fixing prices of vehicles arbitrarily, making a model that should not cost more than N7m to be going as high as N20m. It was also reported that Ms. Chen owns over 90% of CIG Motors, how then is her business beneficial to Nigeria and Nigerians?
This issue is beyond Ms. Chen cornering the GAC market from China, it is about economic diplomacy between China and Nigeria. It is about fair trade partnership. It is about economic espionage and sabotage.
Both the Nigerian government and the Chinese government needs to DO SOMETHING before it snowballs into full economic row between the two nations.
Adetayo Adegbemle is a public opinion commentator/analyst, researcher, and the convener of PowerUpNigeria, an Electric Power Consumer Right Advocacy Group, based in Lagos. (Twitter: @gbemle, @PowerUpNg)