The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has approved China’s request to build its headquarters building in Nigeria’s capital Abuja with a grant of $31.6 million from the Chinese government.
The building will house offices and conference complex building, as well as road facilities, electrical equipment, parking lots and security posts within the proposed site of the project.
The ECOWAS Commission, led by its president Jean-Claude Brou signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday with the Chinese government represented by the Ambassador of China to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Zhou Pingjian.
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Mr Brou said the building was necessary due to the increasing number of staff which has forced the Commission to operate from three buildings away from each other, the Commission said in a statement.
He also expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and called on them to ensure that the building’s architecture “reflects the culture and Africaness of ECOWAS Member States.”
The Chinese Ambassador assured ECOWAS that the building will be of high quality and will take into considerations the cultural biases of the region.
Work will begin immediately on the building which will be maintained by China three years after completion.
This development comes months after China was accused of spying on the African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which it built in 2012.
An investigation conducted by French media Le Monde Afrique and published on Saturday revealed that in the past five years, data from the AU servers in Ethiopia were transferred to servers in Shanghai at odd hours.
The report added that the discovery resulted in the change of servers as security experts from Algeria who checked the entire building found hidden microphones installed in desks.
Chinese ambassador to the African Union, Kuang Weilin, described the claims reported by French media Le Monde Afrique as “absurd” and “preposterous”.
The United States has staged an open battle with China against its growing dominance in Africa. The recently fired U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was on tour in the continent last week downplayed China’s role in Africa by saying the U.S. was promoting “sustainable growth” while China “encouraged dependency.”