In continuance of strategic far East investments in Africa, China signed an agreement on infrastructural development and economic cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria. The pact which was signed by the Vice Minister, Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, Li Jinzao, involves China building a trans-West African highway (which will go through nine states) and the construction of the ECOWAS headquarters building extension in Abuja.
The agreement stems from the pact reached at the China-African Forum in Beijing in July this year.
The Chinese commerce minister declared that China does not seek the economic takeover of the West African region but is poised to assist in the realisation of the development of badly needed infrastructure as well as interconnectivity of the area.
“Chinese assistance is on humanitarian basis. We supported after and during the liberation struggles and during the fight against colonialism in the 1960s and early 70s. China also supported Tanzania and Zambia to construct the Trans Sahara railway line and we did not do this in order to get anything in return.
“China has made sacrifices for Africa and our gain is justice and common experience of human beings, in sharing in the common aspiration of Africans. From the time and now, China sees itself and the countries in Africa as both developing countries in poverty and that Africa is even more critical,” Jinzao told Nigerian newspapers.
“Our gain is not in material or financial terms but the satisfaction that we are contributing to the progress and development of other people. Over the past decade, China has provided grants to African countries and has announced debt cancellations. There are no political strings attached to our assistance packages and China does not seek to interfere in the domestic affairs of the nations that we have economic cooperation with.”
China had donated a newly built $200 million state-of-the-art headquarter complex to the African Union early this year; while Nigeria also recently confirmed that it was taking a $1.1 billion loan from China. This has arouse suspicions that Beijing might be doing all this with an hidden agenda.
Commenting on the development, ECOWAS Vice President, Toga McIntosh, said: “We do hope that in the implementation of the agreement, both sides would work diligently to allow for adequate access to the $20 billion of credit line provided by the government of China to African countries to assist us in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small and medium sized enterprises. We shall work hard on this and working together, West Africa as a region, stands to gain from our strategic partnership arrangement with our Chinese brothers and sisters.”
He acknowledged that ECOWAS’ inspiration in working with China is “drawn from the knowledge that established Chinese companies and financial institutions are called upon to take part in transnational and trans-regional infrastructural development in Africa.”
On the sustainability of the partnership, he said: “West Africa-China relationship is a win-win situation. We are prepared to work. The Chinese are already hardworking people. Now, if you have a partner who goes to work and thinks hard and you sleep off and metaphorically go to the drinking bar and drink yourself to stupor, that other partner would win.”