UN Commission gets $57m to renovate Africa Hall building in Addis
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA has received a $57 million budget approval from the UN General Assembly to facelift its permanent headquarters in a bid to modernise the historical building and revamp its heritage.
The Africa Hall building, situated in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, was constructed in 1961 by then Emperor Haile Selassie, and is mostly popular for being the founding venue for the Organization for African Unity (OAU, African Union’s predecessor, in 1963.
It was donated by Emperor Selassie “to mark the role of emerging African countries in the UN and to be the first building in the continent for international conferences or high level meetings,” said ECA’s Civil Engineer Getachew Kassa.
According to Antonio Baio, ECA’s Project Manager, the renovation will involve upgrading the building into a modern conference facility through enhancing technology and functionality, and improving compliance with modern standards such as fire safety.
“The idea is to rejuvenate the building, make it functional and safe, highlight its historical and cultural legacy and open it to the public,” Mr Baio told journalists at a virtual press conference Monday.
The facelift will include a structural upgrade of up to 8,000 square metres, improvement of the conferencing facility to be more safe and comfortable with about 450 seats, and upgrading technology to match the UN New York headquarters. This will cost about 60 percent of the budget, totalling to $27.5 million.
Seven relevant art pieces will also be restored and a visitors’ and exhibition area of up to 300 square metres revamped at $2.2 million. About 7,000 square metres of the surrounding environment, including a parking area, will also be facelifted at a cost of $2 million.
The entire project is expected to end by 2024, with the initial stages of relocation of current actual tenants already in progress, according to Mr Baio.
In addition to available funds, Mali will contribute $52,000 to the project while Switzerland has pledged to contribute $99,930 in 2023. Ethiopia has donated the piece of land to be used for constructing the visitor’s parking lot, and Italy will also be contributing in kind.