Nigeria's finance minister Mr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala signed the $US 600m 20-year deal with China's Export-Import Bank in Beijing on September 12 for two infrastructure projects, including $US 500m for the 77.8km light rail network.

The network is being built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and comprises two lines, one linking Abuja city centre with the satellite towns of Nyanya, Kubwa, Maraba and Lugbe and the other connecting Kubwa with Nnmadi Azikiwe International Airport.

Construction began in 2006, and was initially due to be completed in 2013 but financial problems have held the project back.