Nigeria government has initiated discussion with Standard Chartered Plc for the funding of two rail projects estimated to cost $14.4 billion, abandoning funding plans from Chinese banks.
The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, made this known in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday.
The minister said fund will be used to upgrade a narrow-gauge track in the eastern part of Nigeria and build a new standard-gauge line on the coast.
The government has already concluded contracts with the Nigerian unit of state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. (CCECC) for both deals.
“We’ve moved away from China in some of our projects,” Amaechi said June 5 in the capital, Abuja.
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According to him, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, is overseeing the talks with the British financial institution about arranging the infrastructure loans.
Standard Chartered is “unable to provide any information nor any confirmation” about the talks, the bank’s head of corporate affairs for West Africa, Dayo Aderugbo, said by email to Bloomberg, citing “confidentiality issues in disclosing any third-party transactions.”
A London-based spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment, while a spokesman for Ahmed didn’t respond to text messages and phone calls seeking comment.
Standard Chartered has had a presence in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, since 1999.
At a groundbreaking ceremony in March for CCECC’s $3.2 billion reconstruction of the dilapidated Eastern Line, which links the port city of Port Harcourt in the southeast with Maiduguri in the north, Amaechi said “a syndicate of Chinese financiers” was backing the development.