Amid deepening conflict in Ethiopia, a ceremony marking the topping out of the new, China-donated headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) was held Friday in the capital Addis Ababa.
Construction giant China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was praised for completing 45% of total construction in what one African Union (AU) official called “an impressive record of 348 days”.
The 40,000-sq-m building in the African Village, south of Addis Ababa, will house an emergency operation centre, data centre, laboratory, training and conference centres, offices and expatriate apartments, all constructed, furnished and equipped by China.
The ceremony was held against the backdrop of ongoing civil war in Ethiopia. The US, France, Britain and Germany are among countries now urging their citizens to leave the country immediately, with Tigrayan rebel forces reported to be closing in on the capital.
The conflict went unmentioned in remarks recorded at the topping out ceremony.
“As we speak, the Covid-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc across the globe,” China’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Liu Yuxi, said. “However, it cannot prevent China-Africa cooperation from growing in depth and substance.”
AU humanitarian affairs commissioner Amira Elfadil Mohamed said: “While celebrating our success in reaching 45% of total project completion within an impressive record of 348 days, the African Union would like to express its sincere appreciation to the Government of People Republic of China for funding of the whole project, and to all the stakeholders who have played their respective roles and tirelessly assisted the team in achieving its target.”
The AU and the government of China signed the agreement for the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters in July 2020. Hostilities between the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed broke in November that year.