As trade and investment have grown, so has lending, leading to an increased focus on the balance of the bilateral relationship. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has at times had to deny that his country was too reliant on Chinese debt.
But the public debate about the level of Nigeria’s indebtedness to China, including claims that Abuja is risking its sovereignty, is one that is never too far from the limelight. Our fact-sheet looks at the size of current debt.
This debt comprised:
[li]N12.7 trillion ($33.3 billion) in external debt, all of it contracted by the federal government.[/li][li]N20.2 trillion ($53 billion) in domestic debt, including loans by banks. Of this amount, the federal government owed N16 trillion ($42 billion) while the balance was loans by the state governments and the federal capital territory.[/li][/ul]
Of the external debt, 9.7% or N1.2 trillion ($3.3 billion) was owed to the Export-Import Bank of China. This is a state-owned and funded bank that supports China’s foreign trade and investment.
The debt to China formed 80.1% of bilateral debt, or $4.1 billion. Bilateral debt generally refers to debt loaned by one state to another state. Other countries that have lent to Nigeria are France, Japan, India, and Germany.