ECOWAS and General Electric meet to explore areas of collaboration in energy and infrastructural development
| By Maureen Chigbo | Jun. 3, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
A MEETING between the officials of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and General Electric, GE, has agreed to look for areas of collaboration in the development of the energy and infrastructure of the region to boost regional trade and integration. The meeting agreed that the point of entry for this partnership could be through the programmes and activities of the Cape Verde-based ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, ECREE, and other non-carbon-based energy projects including hydro and solar.
The officials also agreed that other potential areas of engagement could be through trade expansion and integration leveraging on the ECOWAS investment-friendly policy and code, which will soon be finalised. Both sides agreed to follow-up discussions on the areas of cooperation and mutually beneficial partnerships.
The meeting took place when Karan Bhatia, GE’s vice president and senior counsel, Global Government Affairs and Policy, led a four-man delegation to visit ECOWAS Commission on May 16, in Abuja. He was received by Toga Gayewea McIntosh, vice president of the ECOWAS commission on behalf of the president of the Commission. McIntosh said the new management at the Commission was calibrating its priorities for effective balance between peace and security and economic development, to deliver on its mandate.
He explained that the inability of individual countries to harness the region’s vast resources makes integration inevitable, and especially through public/private partnerships. The vice president named energy, transportation, oil and gas, health care and capacity building, as the potential areas of collaboration and partnership between ECOWAS and GE. On oil and gas, McIntosh said the extension of the West African Gas Pipeline Project to more ECOWAS member-states is in progress and GE would be invited to join other partners if the need aroses.
In response, Bhatia said that GE shared ECOWAS’ goals on regional integration, which are in consonance with the company’s shift in focus in the past five years to infrastructure, including the manufacturing and construction of power generation plants, health care equipment suited to the West African market, as well as aviation assets, and oil and gas.
For GE with an asset base of $160 billion, “it is not just about market and trade, we are also involved in human capacity development,” he said, adding that this was necessary to create the requisite indigenous capacity that would drive economic growth and regional integration.
Bhatia was on a two-day visit to Nigeria for talks with various business leaders and stakeholders in the country. Also on the GE delegation were Nils Tcheyan, director, Government Affairs and Policy, GE Africa, Del Renigar, senior counsel, Global Government Affairs and Policy, Africa, Middle East and South Asia, and Olaseni Ashiru, Government Affairs and Policy, West Africa.
On the ECOWAS side were Alfred Braimah, director, Private Sector, and officials from the External Relations and Communication Directorates.