ABUJA — One sunny afternoon, Saleh Magawi walked into a plot covering an area of over 7 hectares earmarked for the construction of the new permanent headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
The new headquarters building, with a groundbreaking ceremony held in early December, will be sitting on the land in about two years. Armed with a camera and tripod, Magawi, who works in the media unit of the ECOWAS Commission, recorded videos of the current state of the land while picturing in his mind what the edifice, a China-aided project, will look like when he returns to record the finished work.
“It is exciting that I will work in a more conducive environment,” the videographer told Xinhua in a recent interview, saying he hopes to make a visual and pictorial display of “the current state of the land and completed version to tell the story of the magnificent building in the future.”
Upon completion, the new permanent headquarters of ECOWAS, constructed by a Chinese firm, is expected to consolidate the regional bloc’s operations in one complex in Abuja, a departure from operating at three different locations in the same city.
At least three West African leaders, including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterparts from Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, as well as President of the ECOWAS Commission Omar Alieu Touray and Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun, performed the groundbreaking ceremony to formally commence the construction of the new headquarters on Dec. 4.
According to the architectural plan, it is composed of offices and conference rooms for all levels of administrative personnel, as well as support facilities, such as restaurants, libraries, nurseries, clinics, exhibition halls, and many other functional facilities.
The two-story conference center, with an area of 4,451 square meters, is composed of a conference hall, and a head of states’ conference room. The office building and the conference center feature a constant stretch of an arc-shaped external wall which stands for the meandering beautiful Niger River running through West Africa, said Magawi.
This new ECOWAS headquarters is expected to have a lofty top and two sloped sides, with the office building expected to take after a towering peak on the African savannah. Standing conspicuously by the main road linking the airport in Abuja like a giant monument, the office building and conference center is expected to form a distinctive landmark of elegant and minimalist design that gives commuters coming to and leaving the city a sense of grandness, eternity, and sophistication.
Anticipating the future, Magawi said he looked forward to “using the state-of-the-art office space that promises a highly digitalized working environment, bringing greater comfort amid tight security.” Cui said at the groundbreaking ceremony that the new ECOWAS headquarters symbolized “a vivid reflection of China’s support to the work of ECOWAS, as well as the traditional friendship between China and the West African countries.”
He said the regional economic bloc has so far proved to be a driving force to foster lasting peace and sustainable development in West Africa and Africa at large.