Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, says the assistance China is rendering to African countries in building infrastructure is important.
In an opinion published in Financial Times, Okonjo-Iweala, who is now the co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate, said the concern about Africa’s rising debt profile is real.
“The concern about Africa’s rising debt profile is real. According to the IMF, sub-Saharan Africa’s debt to GDP ratio has risen from 26.3 per cent in 2009 to 48.1 per cent today,” she wrote.
“This ratio is far higher and in dangerous territory for a handful of countries. Whilst Chinese debt may not be the biggest contributor to this, African countries need to seek a good balance of concessional loans, grants and foreign direct investment, individually and collectively to sustain their development. China is open to this.
“During my time as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2011-2015), China worked with us to get a balanced package of assistance that has helped build the light rail system in Abuja and four new airport terminals in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja, among other projects.
“Directing Chinese assistance to build sustainable regional infrastructure projects that can unlock the continent’s vast potential is key.”
A number of people including Amina Mohammed, the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), have complained about the rising level of debt in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
In March, Rex Tillerson, former US secretary of state, had warned that loans from China are terrible for Africa.