China in the heart of Africa

Author: 

Kingsley Ighobor

Publication date: 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Type: 

  • Article

Producer: 

External to ACUI

Project theme: 

Document: 

"China’s gift to Africa.” The new headquarters of the African Union, a towering 20-storey building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is so called because China picked up the $200 million tab for the state-of- the-art complex. Ethiopia’s tallest building, completed in December 2011 in time for an AU summit the following month, includes a 2,500-seat conference hall. The gift prompted Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to refer to Africa’s current economic boom as a “renaissance,” due partly to China’s “amazing re-emergence and its commitments to a win-win partnership with Africa.” Not all Africans have welcomed China’s gift. West African political commentator Chika Ezeanya considers it an “insult to the AU and to every African that in 2012 a building as symbolic as the AU headquarters is designed, built and maintained by a foreign country.” However, as African leaders savoured the swanky complex in January, they took turns thanking China.