A 20-storey headquarters and conference centre for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was inaugurated at an official ceremony on 28th January, 2012 attended by many Chinese and African officials. China provided funding for the £127m project as part of an ongoing initiative to develop ties with Africa, strengthening the business relationship between the two nations. Jia Qinglin, a senior leader of China told AFP: “The towering complex speaks volumes about our friendship to the African people, and testifies to our strong resolve to support African development.”
The building was designed by the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University with China State Construction Engineering Corporation heading the construction phase which began in June 2009. A 100m-high tower soars above the existing skyline of Addis Ababa, creating a new beacon in the city. This pillar is anchored by a 2,500-capacity conference centre where African officials will meet for debates following its inaugural summit on Sunday, 29th January. The entire complex was built on 100,000 sq m of land donated by the Ethiopian government and constructed by Chinese and Ethiopian workers with the majority of building materials shipped over from China.
Leaping fountains grace a plaza at the front of the building next to a golden statue of late Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah and the first-laid stone of an African Union memorial for Human Rights. Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, commented: “Our dream came true and we are now overlooking a modern architectural jewel symbolising the historical relations between China and our continent.” Trade between China and Africa reached $120bn in 2011.