Nigeria's President and the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), Muhammadu Buhari, has stressed the need for African nations to also make effort to transform their economy and not rely on China alone. 

President Buhari on Monday addressed the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing which was attended by Heads of state and Government of ECOWAS, Chinese government officials and business community. 

In his speech, he said FOCAC was a demonstration of the excellent relations between China and ECOWAS.

He welcomed the two Member States of ECOWAS the Republics of The Gambia and Burkina Faso as well as São Tomé and Principe that were attending the forum for the first time. 

"It is therefore worthy of note that for the first time, all ECOWAS Member States are participating in a FOCAC Summit.

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"The ECOWAS region accounts for some 30% of Africa’s population and GDP.

"ECOWAS Member States are presently embarking on policies and strategies to stabilise and strengthen internal growth.

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"Our Member States are making efforts at diversifying their economies and developing specific policies targeting the most vulnerable groups, in order to ensure more inclusive growth.

"In this regard, Member States will continue to encourage Chinese State-owned companies and entrepreneurs to invest in our sub-region.

"I take this opportunity to convey the appreciation of ECOWAS Member States for China’s increasing investment in our sub-region with the aim of building a prosperous and shared future," he told the gathering. 

Listing some areas that China was contributing to Africa's economy, President Buhari said the Asian nation was the largest investor in the sub-region in both private and public sectors covering areas such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, mining and healthcare.

"China also provides significant assistance in emergency humanitarian aid and response to climate change.

"Various construction projects are now ongoing in the sub-region, including the construction of railway projects, power infrastructure, airports and numerous roads through Chinese financing.

China-Africa Cooperation meeting held here
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Beijing

"While it is pertinent to mention that Member States of ECOWAS are at different stages of development, President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to our sub-region has highlighted the need for even closer collaboration to enable more Chinese investment to support the cause of regional integration and development," he stated. 

The Nigerian leader then stressed the need for African nations to look beyond China and take their destinies in their hands. 

" We should also realise that while China’s help is vital, the main push to transform our economies must come from our own efforts and commitment.

"ECOWAS also welcomes more Chinese tourists to visit West Africa. This will enhance people-to-people exchanges, especially now that Member States are getting involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"Our sub-region is endowed with enormous tourism potentials.

"With China’s support, tourism related infrastructure should be developed to empower our citizens, create more employment opportunities among the teeming population and eliminate poverty.

"We would also request visa facilitation for our businessmen and women, and students who seek to visit China," President Buhari told the gathering. 

He also took the opportunity to woo more foreign investors, saying "ECOWAS Member States will continue to pay emphasis on encouraging more foreign direct investment in the sub-region.

"Member States are looking at the opportunities that the China International Import-Export initiative will offer our exporters to gain market access for their goods and services in China.

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"Such an opportunity will help in diversifying the economy of our sub-region from over reliance on primary agricultural and mineral products and subsequently correct the huge trade imbalance between China and the ECOWAS sub-region on a win-win basis for both parties".

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