Continuing its strategy of diplomacy through construction, China is to gift an African alliance of states a brand new $31.6m headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
The new HQ, for the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was necessitated by a growing staff numbers at the bloc’s commission, which currently operates from three separate buildings dotted around the city, ECOWAS said.
Signing the MOU for the gift of the new HQ on 14 March 2018 was ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Brou, right, and China’s ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian (ECOWAS)
Design work for the complex, which will include offices and conference facilities, starts immediately following the memorandum of understanding signed 14 March in Abuja by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, and China’s ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian.
China also offered to maintain the building for three years after completion.
"Mr. Brou expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for the grant saying it is a mark of goodwill from the Asian country to ECOWAS and then further expressed the region’s Commitment to foster the ECOWAS-China cooperation," the bloc’s statement said.
In 2012 Chinese contractors completed another gift to the African continent: the new headquarters of the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Controversy erupted earlier this year when French newspaper Le Monde reported the discovery of hidden listening devices and nightly data harvests from the building.
China denied any espionage.