AFRICANGLOBE – Construction of the new headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia, was recently completed and the structure has passed an internal quality inspection, said Zeng Huacheng, a special councilor to the AU headquarters project from China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Zeng said the headquarters, worth $123.7 million and one of the biggest aid projects from China to Africa, will be inaugurated in January.
“The accessible height of the main office building is 99.9 meters, in reference to the founding date of the AU and the rise of the continent,” Zeng said. “The panoramic view of the conference center is like two hands holding each other, signifying the strengthening friendship between China and Africa.”
Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, said the new headquarters was made possible with China’s support.
“The donation from China to Africa is representative of our friendship and cooperation,” he said. “It symbolizes the cooperation between us.”
The new headquarters comprises a 20-storey main office building, a 2,505-person-capacity conference center and a sub-conference building, which has 32 conference rooms. The total area of the complex is 112,000 square meters.
At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006, the Chinese government announced it would support the project to promote integration and unification in Africa. Construction formally began in June 2009.
According to Zeng, the design of the headquarters used green, environmentally friendly concepts.
“Most of the offices are not equipped with air-conditioners since the structure was designed to reduce direct ultraviolet radiation,” he said, adding that energy-saving technologies were applied to every facet, from drip irrigation to solar lighting.
To ensure construction quality, only the best materials were used and furniture was specifically designed and ordered.
“Details such as the height of a table and the color of a carpet were all discussed with representatives from the AU,” Zeng said.
The councilor said the construction schedule was tight because long rainy seasons severely slowed progress.
“We worked very efficiently,” said Girma Negash, a local electrician who worked on the construction.
“Although we initially had some communication issues with our Chinese colleagues, we learned many new skills from this project,” he said, adding that he is proud to see African leaders assembling in the new headquarters.
Jiang Jianguo, a 50-year-old Chinese electrical engineer, also worked on the site for nearly a year. He said the complexity of the headquarters was comparable with large-scale Chinese projects.
“So many new technologies and designs were used in the construction of the headquarters. It is among the highest quality projects I have ever joined,” he said.