According to an analysis of the external debt stock data from the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s debt to China increased from $3.26bn as of September 30, 2020, to $3.59bn as of September 30, 2021.
This shows an increase of $330m in one year.
Although the Federal Government has been mostly secretive about the terms of the agreement of its China loans, the DMO has made some statements on them in recent times.
In a statement in June 2020, the DMO said, “The total borrowings from China of $3.121bn as at March 31, 2020, are concessional loans with interest rates of 2.5 per cent per annum, tenor of 20 years and grace period (moratorium) of seven years.”
According to the DMO, the terms are compliant with the provisions of Section 41 (1a) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
In addition, the low-interest rate reduces the interest cost to the government while the long tenor enables the repayment of the principal sum of the loans over many years.
In a new document titled ‘status of Chinese loans as at September 30, 2021’, the DMO disclosed that 15 projects were funded by the loans acquired from China.
These projects range from the water supply, power generation, railways, airport terminals, communication to agricultural processing.
The first loan project was for the Nigerian Communications Satellite project with $200m agreed on January 12, 2006. This was a five-year loan that matured on June 29, 2018. Nigeria successfully paid off the loan, which had an interest rate of three per cent per annum, leading to the payment of $40.02m as the interest rate.
The second loan was for the Nigerian national public security communication system project with $399.50m agreed on December 20, 2010, and disbursed.
The third loan was for the Nigerian railway modernisation project (Wu- Kaduna section) with $500m agreed on December 20, 2010, and disbursed.
While the fourth loan was for the Abuja light rail project with $500m agreed on November 7, 2012, and disbursed, the fifth loan was targeted at the Nigerian ICT infrastructure backbone project with $100m agreed on January 5, 2013, and disbursed.
The sixth loan was meant for four airport terminals’ expansion projects (Abuja, Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt) with $500m agreed on July 10, 2013, but $455.28m was disbursed, which is 91.06 per cent of the agreed amount.
The seventh loan was for the Nigerian Zungeru hydroelectric power project with $984.32m agreed on September 28, 2013, but only $518.24m was disbursed, which is 52.65 per cent of the agreed amount.
The eighth loan was for the Nigerian 40 parboiled rice processing plants project (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), with $325.67m agreed on April 26, 2016, but nothing was disbursed.
The ninth loan was for the Nigerian railway modernisation project (Lagos – Ibadan section), with $1.27bn agreed on August 18, 2017, but only $759.84m was disbursed, which is 17.50 per cent of the agreed amount.