The 15-member regional bloc ECOWAS is to explore the possibility of emulating the integrated approach to development which has transformed China into an economic giant, for the benefit of the citizens of the region, ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho said in Beijing.
At a meeting Tuesday with the Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Zhai Jun, at the start of a week-long visit to mobilise additional Chinese support for the development of West Africa, the President said such a development approach would enable the region to realise the dividends of democracy more expeditiously.
“ECOWAS will continue to look at the Peoples Republic of China as a source of inspiration on how to bring economic progress and integration to the West African region,” an ECOWAS Commission statement obtained by PANA here quoted Gbeho as saying.
The Commission President is leading a high-level ECOWAS delegation for talks aimed at strengthening cooperation between China and the Commission and its Member States.
He conveyed the gratitude of the ECOWAS Chairman and Member States to the Government and people of the Peoples Republic of China, for their contribution to the development of West Africa.
Welcoming the delegation, the Minister said West Africa had a lot to learn from China, which has prioritised the development of its infrastructure as the surest way of bringing development to the people in an integrated manner.
He assured the delegation that China would continue to cherish its relations with the region through a deepening of cooperation toward the realisation of West Africa’s development objectives.
The ECOWAS delegation also visited the China-Africa Development Fund (CADfund), where President Gbeho canvassed the Fund’s support for the development of the region’s infrastructure and agriculture.
He listed the priority areas to include investments in the energy, roads, rail, water and agriculture sector, noting that in spite of its immense potentials, the region is characterised by subsistence farming with low productivity.
To improve food security, the ECOWAS chief said efforts were being intensified to introduce business element into the region’s agriculture, adding that some Community Member States had already drawn up investment programmes with the purpose of infusing business elements into the sector.
CADfund is active in the region with investments in the energy and other sectors.
During the visit, which is under the auspices of the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between ECOWAS and the China Council for The Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), will also give the ECOWAS team the opportunity to hold discussions with officials of the China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank of China, the China Development Bank and the Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mr. Fu Ziying