The China-aided construction of the permanent headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has began in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to consolidate the regional bloc’s operations in one complex — a departure from operating at three different locations in Abuja.
At least three West African leaders including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterparts from Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, as well as President of the ECOWAS Commission Omar Alieu Touray and Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun, performed the groundbreaking ceremony to formally commence the construction of the new headquarters.
“To sponsor and construct the new ECOWAS headquarters is a vivid reflection of China’s support to the work of ECOWAS, as well as the traditional friendship between China and the West African countries,” Cui said.
Buhari described the project as “a symbol of China’s commitment to ECOWAS”, saying that when completed, it would house the three major institutions of the regional bloc including the ECOWAS Secretariat, the Community Court of Justice, and the ECOWAS Parliament.
Buhari said the project, handled by a Chinese firm, would be “our home and a regional rallying point” while representing the unity and brotherhood of the member states, as well as signifying a re-commitment to progress and regional integration.
The groundbreaking ceremony marked “a very significant day in the history of ECOWAS,” according to Touray, who expressed gratitude to the Chinese government.
He said the new headquarters will enable the ECOWAS Commission to accommodate all its staff in one location, which will further result in “operational efficiencies, reduced costs and increased productivity.”