The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a US$31.6 million grant from the Government of China for the construction of a new headquarters for the regional body in Abuja.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, and the Ambassador of China to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Zhou Pingjian, signed for both parties at a bilateral meeting held at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters, Abuja, a statement issued on Wednesday (14 March) by the communications section of the commission, said.
Brou expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for the grant saying it was a mark of goodwill from the Asian country to ECOWAS. The project is expected to cost $31.6 million.
The project is expected to cater for a facility comprising offices and conference complex building, as well as roads, electrical equipment, parking lots and security posts within the proposed site of the project.
ECOWAS currently operates from three different buildings in Nigeria’s administrative capital, Abuja.
The development emphasizes China’s political and diplomatic investment in Africa.
The Chinese also built the African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at a cost of US$200 million in 2012 and dubbed the marble and glass edifice a ‘gift to the people of Africa’.
China was accused in a French newspaper report of spying on the AU building. The report by Le Monde said China had installed hidden microphones in the building and were transferring sensitive information at odd times of the day.
The AU and China jointly rubbished the report with China describing it as preposterous and meant to damage relations between the two partners.
However, critics say it’s not a good sign that a building symbolizing African unity should be a gift from powers outside the continent. In fact, more than 60 % of AU’s operating budget is provided by donors.Yet this is the organization that should be working tirelessly for the complete liberation of African people from the clutches of imperialism.
With China again gifting ECOWAS with a new headquarters, critics will again question why African countries cannot pool their resources as a sign of strength to implement their joint programmes without always resorting to international donors.