US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that Washington’s involvement in infrastructure in Africa is not about China, but intends to improve infrastructure standards without burdening the debt. countries.
On a visit to the most populous country in Africa, Blinken was asked about US-China competition in infrastructure investment on the continent, where China has increased its influence in recent years through such investments.
“When it comes to infrastructure investment, again, it’s not about China or anyone, it’s about what we like to think of as a career at the top when it comes to investments,” Blinken said at a joint news conference. with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Blinken said investment from China in Africa was in principle a good thing, but countries should not be left with “massive debts they can’t pay”, adding that workers ’rights, environmental protections and safeguards against corruption must also be in place.
Developed countries in the G7 will invest in Africa as part of the so -called Build Back Better World program, he added.
Blinken signed a $ 2.17 billion development assistance program with Onyeama on Thursday and said Washington would also continue to invest in security in Nigeria.
Onyeama said Nigeria needed investment from China to address a severe infrastructure shortage, and said the debt it had taken out was “sustainable”.
China is one of the major bilateral lenders to Nigeria and has provided financing for infrastructure development such as roads, railways and gas pipelines. Nigeria’s public debt office said on its website that China’s debt reached $ 3.121 billion or 3.94% of the country’s total public debt stock in March 2020.
“We saw a good opportunity with the Chinese,” Onyeama said. “They are used to many of these large capital projects and infrastructure projects.”