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THE BITTER SWEET STORY OF NIGERIA’S POTENTIAL

The Chinese Entrepreneurs Quietly Reshaping Nigeria

Much has been said about Nigeria’s potential over the years. There is little or no controversy over that. Our huge infrastructure deficit has also been a subject of debate with no way out in the nearest possible time frame.

In spite of this, others, foreigners in particular seem quite excited about our potential and are sticking their neck out to be part of the action. While this seems to be good news because of the much needed investors it becomes bittersweet because Nigerians are not excited. Most have lost hope, it’s not looking good, it looks easier to just get out. Why try? For me I would say why not try? That’s what Wu came all the way from faraway china to do. Try…

Wilson Wu has big plans for the free trade zone he manages in Igbesa, a scruffy town in Ogun State, some 37 miles from the frenzy of Lagos, Nigeria’s huge commercial capital. Casting his gaze over what is today a small cluster of industrial warehouses surrounded by mud roads and bush, Wu can see an altogether brighter future. “We will have a five-star hotel, a golf club, a Walmart,” he says in a well-rehearsed pitch. “It will be like Dubai.”

After seven years in operation, the free trade zone has 50 registered companies, including two ceramic manufacturers producing tiles and plates, a steel-pipe plant and factories making everything from furniture to tomato sauce. There is a printing business, a plastic recycling company and another specializing in construction materials.

For Wu, the next 15 to 20 years will see a massive expansion to 10,000 companies, 200 times the number today. “We will have eight different industrial sectors,” he says. “We will have different zones for electronics, for tiles, construction. In the future, we will have a university for research and development.”

“Nigeria has the conditions to be a factory of the world,” says Zhou Pingjian, China’s ambassador to Nigeria. “It should become the factory of the world.”

This is what others are saying about Nigeria…What are you saying? What are you thinking?

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