UN agency invest $57 million to renovate Africa Hall

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched a $56.9 million construction to renovate and modernize the historic Africa Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The historic Africa Hall in Addis Ababa has hosted many African leaders in 1963 when they gathered in Addis Ababa to establish the continental Organization for African Union now known as the African Union.

Africa Hall was inaugurated in 1961 prior to the establishment of the OAU in 1963. OAU was established in that hall
But it is the headquarters of UNECA. The historic compound has been deteriorating through time, according to the UNECA officials who spoke at the launching of the renovation project this morning.

The project when completed aims to transform Africa Hall into a rejuvenated facility, complying with the highest international standards for conference facilities. As part of preserving and restoring the historical and cultural values embedded in its architecture, the other objective of the project is to include a permanent exhibition to turn Africa Hall into one of the leading tourist destinations in Addis Ababa and highlight its significant role in the UN and in modern African history.

To maintain and pass to next generation the historic legacy and architectural beauty of Africa hall, the UNECA has allocated close to $57 million and announced a bid to hire companies that can handle the renovation project.

Two international construction companies are selected of which one is a joint venture with a local, to complete the construction by 2021. While three other companies are selected to undertake the art work and related renovation activities, according to a UNECA official, who decline to name the selected companies.

In addition to the Africa hall the renovation includes designing the whole compound, which includes greenery area of 30% and 70% parking lots, according Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of UNECA.

“We are sitting in a hall with a lot of history. This is more than just signing a paper.  This is a continuation of history the continent of Africa has with Ethiopia.  We have to do it efficiently. The modernization include, increasing facilities with the state of three art, adding few rooms and facilities, redesigning the parking lots and green spaces,” she said.

The modernization is also aims enhancing technological endowment, upgrading functionality and instituting the highest safety/security standards. The UN General Assembly approved the project to renovate the Africa Hall, entrusting the ECA with its implementation.

Ethiopia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hirut Zemene Kasa, who signed the modernization project launching agreement this morning said: We would also recognize the very important role made by our founding fathers…We make special tribute to Emperor Hailessillassie. We are very grateful for the attention given by the United Nations. What we have done in the past create an inertia for the youth to go further.”

The governing structure pertaining to the project incorporates many elements, including the role of the Ethiopian Government, UNESCO and the African Union to ensure wide and solid participation in the process.

The first renovation of former AU’s compound was  launched by UNECA, in October 2008 adding new buildings.