On October 13, 2018, the Nigerian Government of Imo state and Elion Resources Group (ELION), a leading Chinese green industry enterprise, signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) on extensive projects such as desertification control, agriculture and new energy resources.
Wang Wenbiao, Chairman of ELION, who met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in Beijing during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit said the investment exploration in Nigeria followed the success of the FOCAC summit, in which China proposed green development as part of eight new initiatives to strengthen and broaden cooperation with Africa,and Elion just signed a MOU on ecological projects with Morocco government before his trip to Nigeria.
Globally Acclaimed Kubuqi Model
Over the past 30 years, ELION has afforested over 6,000 km2 of degraded land in Kubuqi Desert, and improved the life of more than 100,000 local residents. In recent years, the Kubuqi Model created by ELION has received focused attention from countries and territories plagued by desertification.
“I welcome and expect ELION to seek cooperation opportunities in Nigeria in desertification control and development of new energy resources,” remarked President Buhari in his meeting with Wang on September 5, 2018 when he was visiting China for the 2018 Beijing Summit of FOCAC, who exchanged ideas and reached consensus in many areas. According to President Buhari, Nigeria has coped with desertification control as part of its strategic priority, and is “willing to learn from the Kubuqi Model and experience in desertification control.”
In Nigeria, desertification has hindered the country’s economic and social development. According to Audu Ogbeh, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, statistics show that the country has lost about 19.3 km2 of land every year to desert encroachment, and “the impact is everywhere.”
Wang noted that under the guidance of China’s B&R Initiative, “ELION is willing to work on combating desertification in Nigeria to push ahead, drawing on the Kubuqi Model, the progress of desertification control in West Africa, and even the whole African continent.” Based on its unique desert control model and eco-restoration technologies developed over the past 30 years, ELION is committed to “promoting the environmental progress”
ELION in Nigeria
Despite the distance between them, China, one of the largest developing countries in the world, has established a close relationship with Africa, which is home to the world’s most developing countries. As a global leader in ecological protection, ELION has also developed a close connection with the continent. Wang was granted in 2013 by the United Nations Environment Programme the title of “World Dryland Champion” in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and in December 2017 the Lifetime Achievement Award as a Champion of the Earth in Nairobi, Kenya.
As part of its effort to promote the progress of the B&R Initiative, ELION will cooperate with Nigeria to build an integrated industry park featuring ecosystem restoration, photovoltaic (PV) projects for poverty alleviation, desert agriculture, and eco-tourism, which will greatly benefit the economic development in rural areas in Nigeria.
Power projects are much needed in Nigeria, as 60%-70% of the population have no access to electricity and most rural households are not connected to the national power facilities. To tackle the problem of power shortage which has seriously hindered the industrial development and economic diversification progress, the Nigerian government has turned to the application of solar power and natural gas, eased control over electricity prices, and provided investment incentives to build large gas-fired and solar power plants.
Imo state, with an estimated population of 5 million, is the fifth largest Nigerian state by gross domestic product and one of the states with high reserves of natural gas.
“This will actually boost the economy of Imo state, because all of our problems are of the power, we have the gas, so gas is power, and we have been waiting for this long to see who can move our gas into power, so the economy of the people can change. If Elion comes here and establish this power and create this industrial park, industries will drive, the employment will make dramatic progression, people will be happy for it.” Mr. Okorocha, the governor of Imo state commented.