Sino-Nigerian relations are traditionally friendly and go back to the 1970s when the West African country was an international pariah due to its successive military governments. But as China's economy and energy needs grow, so do Chinese investments in Nigeria.
Nigeria holds the second largest oil reserves in Africa, accounting for over 90 percent of its exports. Even though China's imports from Nigeria are relatively small, compared with the US, in 2006 China and Nigeria signed a $4 billion agreement in oil and infrastructure projects, an agreement that includes four drilling licenses for China. Separately, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) purchased 45 percent of an oil exploration block off the coast of Nigeria for $2.3 billion in 2006.
In 2010, China and Nigeria signed a $23 billion agreement for China to build three oil refineries and a fuel complex, Voice of America reports. Aiming to cut down Nigeria’s dependence on imports – such as clothing, pharmaceuticals, textiles, beverages – the two countries are also constructing one of Africa’s largest free trade zones on the edge of the commercial capital Lagos. Known as the Lekki Free Trade Zone, the first phase of the vast joint venture will cost $5 billion, and will stretch over 16,000 hectares when complete.