This report focuses on Chinese involvement and investment in Nigeria’s railway sector and the intersection of planned projects and regional security dynamics. Examining the role of Chinese loan finance and state-owned enterprises in Nigeria’s transition from its inherited colonial infrastructure, it considers the economic implications of these projects for security and peacebuilding and their potential as a flash point for local grievances and conflict risks.

Summary

  • Chinese firms and finance play a prominent role in Nigeria’s infrastructure development, notably in the construction of several railway lines across the country.
  • The intersection of planned railway projects and regional security dynamics has implications for security and peacebuilding and as a potential flash point for local grievances.
  • The inherently political nature of railway projects can by definition exacerbate existing regional inequalities and interethnic grievances.
  • New railways can contribute to investment and growth in impoverished regions, but security issues—particularly in the Niger Delta and southeastern Nigeria—are significant risks to the implementation of these projects and their feasibility going forward.

About the Report

This Special Report examines the role of Chinese investment and involvement in planned railway projects in Nigeria and its implications for regional security dynamics and peacebuilding. It was commissioned by and undertaken with the support of the United States Institute of Peace.

About the Author

Yunnan Chen is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a research assistant at the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative. Her research focuses on Chinese development finance in Africa’s transport and infrastructure sectors.

Related Publications

China-Venezuela Relations in the Twenty-First Century: From Overconfidence to Uncertainty

China-Venezuela Relations in the Twenty-First Century: From Overconfidence to Uncertainty

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

By: Matt Ferchen

The outsized ambitions and scale of the China-Venezuela political and financial relationship in the twenty-first century have meant that its failures and disappointments have been correspondingly large. This report explores how the nations came to be involved, how each side has responded to Venezuela’s extended economic and political crisis, and the implications for the future of the bilateral relationship and for China’s aspirations to be a leader and agent of international development.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Prospects for Crisis Management on the China-India Border

Prospects for Crisis Management on the China-India Border

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

By: Patricia M. Kim; Vikram J. Singh

After a deadly skirmish in June and shots fired in September, Sino-Indian tensions have escalated to a level not seen in decades. Both countries’ foreign ministers recently agreed to a five-point framework to manage the situation, showing both sides want tensions to plateau rather than deteriorate further. But the Line of Actual Control (LAC) will not easily go back to a well-managed bilateral irritant—right now, it’s a dangerous flashpoint and likely to stay that way. USIP’s Vikram Singh and Patricia Kim look at the recent discussions, what’s driving the escalation, how the conflict affects the region, and what history can tell us about how it might be resolved.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

Thursday, August 6, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

As a struggling, incomplete democracy, Myanmar and its elected leaders face challenges that would confound any country. The best-known involve the military’s uneven loosening of a 50-year dictatorship; ethnic tensions and armed conflicts; the lack of a common national identity; entrenched poverty; and the complications of borders with five nations, including China. Less well known is an emerging threat that touches each of these vital concerns. Over the past three years, transnational networks with links to organized crime have partnered with local armed groups, carving out autonomous enclaves and building so-called “smart cities” to tap into the huge, but illegal, Chinese online gambling market. Myanmar’s leaders at every level and in every sector should pay serious attention to the alarming national implications of these developments.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Thursday, July 30, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

On January 20, a young venture capitalist named Douglas Gan sat down in a Philippine television studio to discuss, in part, an exciting new “Smart City” project his firm had become involved in. Sporting a black hoodie over a white tee-shirt, Gan described how one of his companies, Building Cities Beyond Blockchain, was already at work in Myanmar’s Yatai New City, recording instantaneous property transfers and showing the potential of blockchain technology. It’s a start, the anchor said. Gan agreed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

View All Publications