Monday, September 19, 2011

Chinese president to inaugurate new AU HQ

President Hu Jintao of China is scheduled to visit Addis Ababa in January, sources told The Reporter.

Sources said that President Jintao will come to Addis Ababa early January to inaugurate the new headquarters of the African Union currently under construction in the premises of the AU in Addis Ababa.
The China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) is building a massive new complex as an expansion of the African Union's (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa. The work on the project will be finalised on schedule, according to officials of CSCEC.

Addressing the Chinese delegation at the fourth annual China-Africa Strategic Dialogue held in Addis last May led by Zhai Jun, China's vice minister for foreign affairs, Jean Ping described China as the AU's "good and reliable partner". "We cannot thank China and it's leaders enough for it ..." Ping said.

The new AU’s edifice, which is being built on an area of around 11.3 hectares inside the headquarters of the AU, has cost the Chinese government about 150 million dollars. Work on the project commenced in January 2009, and should be completed by December 2011.

The current premises housing the annual AU meetings were built in the 1960s at the beginning of the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), predecessor of the AU.

Fruit of the China-Africa Cooperation, the new AU conference centre will particularly house the annual conferences of the Pan-African organisation.

For lack of adequate infrastructure, the AU Commission uses the premises of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the purposes of the Union’s annual heads of state and government summit.
A diplomat at the AU said the AU Conference Centre under construction is a “gift” from China, adding that the infrastructure has already cost about 150 million dollars to China.

“China is a partner of Africa and wishes, through this project, to leave its mark on the continent,” the diplomat said, stating that the project is undoubtedly the “symbol of the China-Africa friendship.”

The future AU conference centre includes a 23-storey building that can accommodate more than 500 offices, a 2,000-seat auditorium, a 500-seat conference room and offices for the AU Commission staff.

Last Month Prime Minister Meles Zenawi visited China. Meles managed to secure more than 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government to be invested on different development projects in Ethiopia.