Abuja-Nigeria — ECOWAS and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen multi sectoral cooperation in nine identified core areas. The MOU was signed on 6 May 2011 by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho and the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mahesh Sachdev.
The agreement provides for the establishment and deepening of relations in banking, food and agro-based industries, building and the construction of roads, railways, and other means of communication. It also covers cooperation in metallurgical, mechanical, energy, textile, leather, transport, communication, including electronics and biotechnology industries. Both parties are expected to establish procedures and mechanisms for operationalising the MOU including implementation strategies, programmes and activities. “The MOU is a tool for development and aims to help us achieve the regions vision of a people driven institution by contributing to improving the welfare of our citizens,” His Excellency Gbeho, said after the signing of the ceremony which was witnessed by the visiting Indian minister of state for petroleum and natural gas, Mr. R P N Singh.
He recalled that ECOWAS, which was originally dedicated to the pursuit of the region’s economic development, had to expand its role into the political arena to cope with the region’s dynamics and in order to create a conducive environment for the realization of its core mandate. In this regard, he said the organization has been “trying its best to improve the welfare of the region’s citizens in line with this mandate and look forward to collaborating with India which has a lot of similarity with ECOWAS Member States.” The President applauded India’s economic development, describing it as a source of inspiration for states of the community. The Indian High Commissioner said the MOU holds great potentials for broadening cooperation between ECOWAS and his country, which already enjoys good bilateral relations with member states of the Community. He used the opportunity to invite the ECOWAS President to the second Africa/India Summit scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa between 24th and 25th of May 2011. Describing the first summit held in Delhi in April 2008 as hugely successful, the High Commissioner said the second edition will follow up on some of the agreed activities with a meeting on the sidelines, of Indian and African businessmen toward boosting business cooperation between operators from both parties. Fourteen African leaders attended the first Africa/India summit held from April 4 and 8 in Delhi.