|The new African Union headquarters built and fully funded by the Chinese government at a cost of $200 million. The building hosted this year’s AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital. The towering building – Addis Ababa’s tallest – symbolizes China’s strengthening ties with Africa, a major source of foreign investment from China. AFP|
THE $200 million new headquarters of the African Union – a gift from China – is another confirmation of the continent’s inability to get things done by itself. Almost 50 years after the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, OAU, the AU’s forebear, the continent could not afford the AU’s new edifice that has cast a permanent role for China in Africa.
Disgraced Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi could be largely thanked for the new building. As AU Chairman in 2009, he was planning to move the AU’s headquarters from Addis Ababa to his native Sirte. The Ethiopians, who have been close to China, secured the AU headquarters with the offer from China, which built and furnished it.
Addis Ababa has been Africa’s diplomatic capital since the formation of the OAU in 1963. The choice of Addis Ababa was mostly because of the influence of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, one of the
driving forces behind creation of the OAU.
The 2,550-seat big conference hall, a 650-seat medium conference hall, five press conference rooms, two VIP rooms, and other facilities will ensure African leaders meet in more comfort. Previous summits have held in the United Nations conference centre, as the AU headquarters building was too small.