ECOWAS, China Development Bank set to do more

By Ken
Sackey, GNA

Accra, Sept. 02, GNA – The 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-dollar feasibility studies
being carried out.

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

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 dollar 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.

GNA

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