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ECOWAS, China Partner To Improve Highways, Infrastructure In West Africa

The African Examiner

The People’s Republic of China is considering the possibility of assisting ECOWAS improve its infrastructure in furtherance of its commitment to contribute to the integration and development of the region.

ECOWASThe Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the country’s embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Zhou Shanginq, reaffirmed this commitment during a courtesy call on the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, on 11th February 2014 at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja.

Mr.Zhou identified infrastructure as an important spur for development which enjoys the greatest attention by his country and which explained why a 10 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 outcome of the consultations by the Chinese delegation, led by a senior engineer with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) highway consultants, Mr Fu Jiawei, will guide both parties in deciding on the next steps in this process, Mr Zhou said.

While welcoming the delegation, ECOWAS President paid tribute to the CCCC team and the government and people of China for its assistance to Member States and the Community.

He said that the construction of regional highways remained the priority of the Community 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.

The President 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. He said the corridor project will 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.

He said 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.

The investigation by the Chinese experts began on 10th  February with a visit to the ECOWAS Commission and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will involve the collation of traffic statistics and economic analysis followed with road trips a road trip through Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana,  Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia,  Sierra Leone, Guinea , Guinea Bissau and Senegal.

Also in attendance at the meeting was the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Ebrima Njie and the Director of Private Sector Mr. Alfred Braimah.

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