Ethiopia, Pivotal in the Promotion
Tsehaye Debalkew, Washington DC, January 16, 2011-
Ethiopia has continued to play a pivotal role in promoting and expounding African interests true to its central place as the Headquarters of the African Union, and as a pioneering free nation in the long and arduous liberation struggle for the independence and sovereignty of the continent at large.
The crucial and center piece role that Ethiopia is currently playing in advocating African issues has elevated her stature in the continent earning it the necessary trust and confidence in its diplomatic engagement continentally and globally.
It is appropriate and quite succinct to reminisce the recent corroboration of Ethiopia's peaceful efforts to amicably utilize the Nile water with the intent of it's just and fair distribution, by rallying all upper Nile riparian states who have readied themselves for the implementation for the Nile Co-operative Framework Agreement/CFA/
The five-year implementation contour of the envisioned Growth and Transformation Plan /GTP/ and the concomitant drive and commitment is designed to put an everlasting historic insigna and a reverberating generational finger print by realizing the Grand Renaissance Dam, Africa's biggest dam ever. It is also quintessentially attributable to the unanimous recognition by the continent as the right venue to accord Ethiopia its crucial role that it continues to play in the African political, economic and diplomatic landscape true to its traditionally held and hailed position in anchoring the African cause.
Other multi-faceted involvement in Africa by Ethiopia in ensuring peace and security has also leveraged its healthy diplomatic ties within the continent by spreading the necessary auspicious and propitious environment earning it the celebrity as a key continental player to reckon with from gigantic nations like India, Brazil, South Korea, European States, the United States and notably China.
A case in point that demonstrates the on-going growing bond of Sino- African relations is the visit by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of the recently-completed conference centre of the new Headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa that certainly and eloquently serves as a timely manifestation of the cordial level of Africa and China friendship.
As a further elucidation of its true faith to African Unity and over-all development, Ethiopia provided 130,000 square of land with lease and exempt taxes for materials freely imported for the construction. The new complex covers 112,000 square meters of land and comprises a 20-storey main office building, a 2,500 person-capacity conference centre and a sub-conference building with 41 conference rooms. What is more, the circular building incorporates environmentally-friendly design concepts and energy-saving technologies, a living edifice for Ethiopia's determination to join the club of countries of the much touted and timely Green Economy!!
To corroborate the Afro-Chinese historic link, Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Addis Ababa by the end of the current month of January 2012, to inaugurate the new African Union Headquarters financed by China and built largely with Chinese labor. Dubbed as “China's gift to Africa,” the inauguration ceremony will be held the day before African Heads of State hold their January meeting at the newly built AU Headquarters for the first time.
The construction of the huge continental complex took a mere two years and currently stands tall in Addis Ababa crowning the city as the Seat of the AU reaffirming and confirming that the city has been home to the continental body since its founding, largely due to the influence of the last Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 is an ample showcase of Ethiopia's leading role through and through till the present, in the consummation of African emancipation from the yoke of foreign domination and tutelage.
The sole financier of the project is China which has netted $200 million for putting the facility in place. This fraternal move, by the great Chinese people and government is a solid testimony to the ever cementing of the Afro- Chinese relations that is fast growing in momentum, width, depth and breadth.
Almost 48 years after the foundation of the OAU (Organization of African Unity), the African Union is now able to have such a big facility thanks to the Chinese gesture that can fulfill its requirement in terms of office and in terms of conference. The complex features a 2,500 seat amphitheater and a helicopter landing pad, so visiting dignitaries can be flown in from the airport, eliminating the need for motorcades that tie up traffic in the ever expanding city of Addis Ababa.
The new facility symbolizes China's growing involvement in Africa, and individually with most of the 54 AU member states. In 2010, China moved ahead of the United States as Africa's largest trading partner. Trade with African nations reached $114 billion in 2010, as compared to a scanty amount of $10 billion in 2000.