The recent launch of the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja by the Chinese government has created a distinctive argument among political analysts and economists concerned about the construction of the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa between 2009 and 2012, which cost 200 million dollars and was financed by the Chinese. government. It has given rise to several argumentative questions among conscientious political analysts. How can a single state (China) build for the African Union that comprises 54 states? Why is China building for the African Union?
Since the inauguration of the African Union building in January 2012, China’s influence has grown sporadically such that a recent research study shows that China owns 35 percent of total African trade, according to an October 2022 report. The eyes of the African leaders are now on the desk of the Chinese Communist Party, ensuring a stronger personal relationship with President Xi Jinping to improve the decisive factors of Chinese diplomacy, especially with an eye on China’s economic policy. zero COVID-19
ECOWAS, since its establishment in 1975, comprises the 15 countries that make up the West African region and is headquartered in Nigeria. According to reports from the Council on Foreign Relations in April 2018, ECOWAS and China signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the Chinese government to build a new ECOWAS headquarters and allowing Beijing, China’s administrative headquarters, to maintain the ECOWAS building. ECOWAS for three years after construction
On December 4, 2022, ECOWAS announced the laying of the foundation for the construction of the permanent headquarters building of the commission, with a flag inscription written in bold Chinese in Abuja, which will cost $31.6 million, fully funded by the Chinese. government through the help of China. The building is expected to consolidate all ECOWAS operations in a single building instead of the usual practice of using three different buildings, all in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The new ECOWAS headquarters will house the ECOWAS Commission, the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Parliament. The president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, thanked the Chinese government and described the gesture as a “show of goodwill”.
While the ECOWAS leadership’s poor acceptance of the ludicrous Chinese offer has left many in a state of reading, inquiring into the commission’s concern, it has at the same time led to fundamental questions such as: Why a state as China is building for 15 sovereigns? ECOWAS states? Why has ECOWAS failed to build itself an administrative headquarters since its existence for almost five decades? What does China intend to gain by building the ECOWAS headquarters?
Remember that, economically, China and some of the founding members of ECOWAS, such as Nigeria, were at the same pace of development in the late 1970s and 1980s when China opened up to foreign trade and investment; implement free market reforms in 1979 based on high investment growth, low-cost manufacturing, exports, and agricultural reforms. This was when Nigeria, a pioneer member of ECOWAS, was experiencing a massive oil boom.
There have been various concerns, questions and accusations about the growing influence of China in the operations of ECOWAS, AU and in Africa politics in general. For example, there have been allegations of espionage in the activity of the AU. In January 2018, Le Monde, citing anonymous AU sources, reported that data from AU computers was transferred nightly to servers in Shanghai between 2012 and 2017, and claimed that this was done through of the computers that the Chinese government installed in the African Union building after it built it. The discovery of numerous errors at the AU headquarters has also been reported. Although the AU denies most of these claims, China’s construction of the ECOWAS headquarters is similar to the claim that China is positioning itself as a trusted friend to African nations and leaders, there are also concerns that China is building for ECOWAS to achieve international recognition as the official Republic of China during the long battles between China and Taiwan.
Above all, the Chinese government’s increasing commitment to donating costly and outrageous infrastructure facilities to African governments and nations is a clear indication of its desperation to increase its influence in international politics, using Africa as a springboard.
The Chinese parliament fully funded with $58 million in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo in 2017; the confirmation in 2016 of the Chinese Communist Party’s agreement to build a six-story headquarters in Freetown for the ruling Sierra Leone All People’s Congress party; construction of a metro in Ethiopia’s capital city connecting the landlocked country to the ocean via the Addis-Ababa-Djibouti railway; the construction in 2016 of the Mohammed VI bridge in Morocco by a Chinese group; the reconstruction of the parliament buildings burned in Gabon; Parliament buildings in Zimbabwe, Congo, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau and Lesotho, among others, are all confirmations of China’s desperate move to achieve a central position in African politics and economics, and to desire a degree of influence in decision making. African process. It is also seen as a deliberate threat to the continued dominance of the United States on the African continent and an effort to overthrow the existing order.
- CollIns Akinujomu is a student at Adekunle Ajasin University