Nigeria, Benin and Togo on Thursday formed a new regional body aimed at fast-tracking the integration of the economies of the three west-African neighbours.
The body, known as the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone (Copaz), was formally inaugurated following a mini-summit of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Beninois President Boni Yayi and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe.Obasanjo said: "The Copaz which we are inaugurating today is not a political agenda, but an economic-oriented and development-centred initiative.
"We believe in shared prosperity with our neighbours. Through the partnership, we hope to harness our joint material and human resources for the collective benefits of our peoples."
Obasanjo identified common challenges among the three countries as high levels of illiteracy, inadequate healthcare, undeveloped communication systems, high unemployment and rapid population growth.
A communique; at the end of the summit said it reviewed the crises in Africa especially in Sudan, Ivory Coast, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo and called on the parties involved to pursue the course of peace through dialogue.