13 February 2014

West Africa: China Promises More Ecowas Support

Abuja — CHINA is considering the possibility of assisting the Economic Community of West Africans States (ECOWAS) improve its infrastructure projects.

officials said this was in furtherance to the Asian country's commitment to contribute to the integration and development of the region.

Zhou Shanginq, Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the country's Embassy in Nigeria reaffirmed this commitment during a courtesy call on the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja.

Zhou identified infrastructure as an important spur for development which enjoys the greatest attention by his country and which explained why a ten-member member Chinese delegation of construction experts and economists is in the region for wide ranging consultations on how the region can be supported to improve this sector.

The ECOWAS Commission President said the construction of regional highways remained the priority of the organisation as it would help the realisation of the giant strides attained by the Community through the Common External Tariff agreed by regional leaders last year as well as the trade liberalization programme and its flagship protocol on the free movement of persons, residence and establishment.

He said also reiterated the region's determination to realise the construction of the Lagos- Abidjan corridor for which the five affected countries have agreed to contribute $50 million dollars to kick start the project that will link most of the region's major cities and ports.

Ouedraogo said the corridor project would complement the existing two main corridors in West Africa, namely the trans-coastal highway from Dakar to Lagos and the trans Sahelian highway from Dakar to N'djamena.

The Lagos Abidjan corridor project will handle 60 percent of all transport within the region and pledged the support of the Commission to the visiting Chinese expert's team to ensure a successful conclusion of their investigation.

He thanked the Chinese government for sustaining the good relationship with ECOWAS and urged both parties to work towards the successful operationalization of the cooperation agreement signed between them during the October 2012 visit of the Vice Minister of Commerce to the ECOWAS Commission.

This was a follow up to a previous visit to Beijing in July 2012 led by the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission to discuss and agree areas of collaboration to bolster trade, economic, investment and technical cooperation.

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