The UN General Assembly has approved $57 million to renovate the building of the Africa Hall, where the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is also located.
Antoni Baio, the project manager, Africa Hall, UNECA, disclosed this while briefing journalists on Monday.
He said in 2008, at the 50th anniversary of the UNECA 50th, leaders announced the intention to renovate the Africa Hall to make it “a monument to African history”.
He further said the commission had started its preliminary studies in 2012 and submitted its feasibility report in 2014.
The General Assembly, however, approved the six-year project at its 70th session in 2015, which Mr Baio said was supposed to end at the end of 2021.
“We have already signed the contract. We have been doing the kickoff meeting in September, and the deadline for the completion now is fixed for June 29, 2024.
“This is a guideline for the construction company. The project is ongoing, and it has started already,” he said.
The project manager also said the renovation would create new technologies to make the structure functional and safe.
“Safe because after 60 years of lifespan, of course, the structure of the building is not fit for purpose anymore.”
Speaking on establishing the hall, Getachew Kassa, supervisor, Africa Hall Project, UNECA, said it was built to accommodate international political, economic and social conferences.
“(For) public meetings and temporary exhibitions. It serves as the permanent headquarters for two different offices.
“The first one is the United Nations Economic Commission, and the second one is the delegation of African countries.
“African delegates will have offices in this building,” Mr Kassa said.
Since its conception, Africa Hall has stood as a living symbol of Africa’s history, culture and noble aspirations of African people for peace and unity.
The hall was conceived and donated by the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, to serve as headquarters of ECA, with a vision of attracting the UN to Africa and uniting African Nations.
The hall was inaugurated in 1961 and has hosted several important meetings in the history of pan-Africanism, including the liberation of Africa from colonialism.
It was the birthplace of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union (AU), and whose founding Charter was signed in the hall in 1963.