The African Union has opened its new $200m conference centre and office complex in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The facility, which rises to 100m, has been funded by the Chinese government and sits on a 100,000m2 site donated by the Ethiopian government.
The building includes a 27-storey tower to house African Union’s offices and a pearl shaped conference hall spanning 50,000m2.
African Union Commission chairperson Dr Jean Ping said the facility is a modern architectural jewel symbolising the historical relations between China and Africa.
The new conference centre has a 2,500-seat main conference hall, a second 650-seat conference hall, five press conference rooms, two VIP rooms, water fountains, garden, theatre, parking area, libraries, medical centres and a helicopter landing pad.
The building features three VIP salons, four 113-seat meeting halls, eight halls for bilateral meetings and 31 committee meeting rooms, each with seating capacity for 25 to 30 people.
It also has a 500-seat multipurpose hall capable of receiving 1,000 people, one amphitheatre of 1,000 seats and a commercial centre.
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the magnificent new headquarters of the continental organisation, which has been at the centre of the struggle for African integration and development is a symbol of the rise of Africa.
"The future prospects of our partnership are even brighter and it is therefore very appropriate for China to decide to build this hall", Zenawi said.
The project started in February 2009 and was completed in December 2011 by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) under the Sino-African cooperation agreement.
Most of the materials used came from China and the Chinese constructor also paid for the furniture to the facility.
Chinese special representative to the project and counsellor of China’s embassy in Ethiopia, Zeng Huacheng noted that the contractor considered African culture and aesthetics in the building’s design and decoration.
Image: The new building has a 2,500-seat main conference hall. Photo: African Union.