The development comes on the backdrop of accusation that China hacked chinese-built AU headquarters and stole data for five years.
This is after China signed a memorandum of understanding with The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a ceremony witnessed by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou and the Ambassador of China to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Zhou Pingjian at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters in Abuja.
As per the agreement, Beijing will fund and build the new headquarters at a cost of US $32m and also maintain the new building for three years following its completion.
Mr. Brou thanked the Chinese government for the grant and further expressed the region’s Commitment to foster the ECOWAS-China cooperation.
Once complete, the spanking new headquarters will make it easier for the region body to run its affairs more efficiently as it will consolidate ECOWAS operations in one building from the three it currently uses.
The number of staff the commission had also increased making the development a necessity.
The development however comes on the backdrop of stinging accusation by a French paper Le Monde, which on January published an article quoting anonymous AU sources, who reported that data from computers in the Chinese-built building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.
After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, a major sweep was carried out and microphones hidden in desks and the walls were also detected and removed, according to Le Monde.
The $200 million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012 in what was seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence in Africa, and access to the continent’s natural resources.
More puzzling is also the fact that more than 50 years since majority of African countries in the continent gained their independence, they still have to rely on a foreign government to build for them such as crucial and sensitive facility.
When asked about the Le Monde report, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who assumed the African Union chairmanship this year, denied any knowledge of the hacking report but expressed disappointment that AU should have built its own headquarters, instead of China.
“I would only have wished that in Africa we had got our act together earlier on. We should have been able to build our own building.”
Construction of the new ECOWAS headquarters is set to commence soon and is projected to cater for offices and conference complex building, as well as road facilities, electrical equipment, parking lots and security posts within the proposed site of the project.