ECOWAS, China Development Bank to increase cooperation in infrastructure development

Road1The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the China Development Bank (CDB) are to enhance their cooperation towards yielding mutual dividends in the development of transport and maritime infrastructure, energy, agriculture and health.

Conferring with a delegation from the CDB at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, on Wednesday, the ECOWAS Commission’s President, Marcel de Souza, said West Africa currently enjoyed just about 12 percent of inter community trade.

Road, rail, air and sea infrastructure were, therefore, needed to fast track economic cooperation in the Region, she said.

A communiqué issued in Abuja, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said Mr de Souza cited the 1,028 kilometres Lagos-Abidjan Road project, linking five of the region’s 12 coastal countries, in soliciting the help of the CBD for the $15 million feasibility studies being carried out.

The total cost of the project is put at $80 billion, with the second phase of the project tagged ‘Abidjan-Dakar’ covering 3,260 kilometres with a feasibility studies bill of $25 million and a total cost of $25 billion.

The ECOWAS President also urged the Chinese to support the Region’s energy drive and stressed the urgent need for the massive production of rice, a staple in the Region, instead of the current heavy dependence on importation of the product.

In the same vein, the President sought support for the plan to establish six hospitals of reference to help in the continuous arrest, (post Ebola and Zika viruses) of other diseases such as Lassa fever, and cholera, which ravaged the area.

Mr de Souza also lauded the CBD for taking into account the Region’s ‘action needs’, which represented the kind of steps that should be taken to get closer to the population of the Region.

He cited the cooperation with the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) for the support of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as well as infrastructure and appealed that the prospective loans be granted on soft conditions.

Mr de Souza thanked the CBD for the five billion dollar and $450,000 grant to the ECOWAS Standby Force and Ebola Containment, respectively, and others.

The CDB is the Chinese development financial institution, which specialises in the provision of medium to long term financial facilities for agriculture, power, energy, and infrastructure projects as well as for SMEs.

Zeng Liqing, the leader of the seven-man CBD delegation, and the Managing Director of the Bank, expressed the hope that the meeting would lead to greater collaboration between the two parties.

Madam Zeng disclosed that through the Bank’s efforts, more than 46 billion dollars had been provided to 43 African countries for the development of infrastructure, mining, energy among other sectors.

She said the Bank’s special loans for SMEs were being patronised by 47 African countries, including ECOWAS member states.

The CBD Chief said after the China-Africa Round, which was held in Johannesburg in December 2015, efforts had now reached top gear to realise the broader aspects of the economic cooperation between ECOWAS and CBD.

Source: GNA

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