The 20-storey African Union Conference Centre built and donated to Africa by the Chinese government was inaugurated on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia amidst fanfare.
President Goodluck Jonathan attended the inauguration and several other meetings of the AU alongside his counterparts from the continent.
The inauguration featured colourful cultural display by many African countries including Nigeria.
The 100 metre tall centre said to the tallest tower in Ethiopia incorporating a 2,500 capacity plenary hall was built at a cost of $200 million.
In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Jean Ping, described the building as a dream come true.
Ping expressed his gratitude to both the governments of Ethiopia and China.
“Our dream came true and we are now overlooking a modern architectural jewel symbolising the historical relations between China and our continent,” he said.
He added that the new conference centre would help promote the AU’s presence and its competitiveness in the global arena, as well as improve its working capacity.
The Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Meles Zenawi, said the new headquarters of the continental organisation which has been at the centre of the struggle for the African integration and development was a symbol of the rise of Africa.
He noted that over the past decades and despite rampant hopelessness throughout the continent, China-Africa cooperation has gone from strength to strength.
“The future prospects of our partnership are even brighter and it is therefore very appropriate for China to decide to build this hall,” he said.
President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Chairperson of the African Union, Mr. Teodoro Mbasogo, said the new conference centre was a reflection of the new Africa, and that it endows Africans with the right tools to showcase their human and natural resources.
The inauguration of the building concluded with the presentation of gifts to seven Chinese officials who played a key role in the construction of the centre followed by the handing over of the golden key of the conference centre to the Chairperson of the Union who then handed it over the Chairperson of the AU.
Following a group photograph and amidst cultural performances drawn from member states of the AU, a statue of Kwame Nkrumah was unveiled.
There was also a brief ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the construction of an African Union Human Rights Memorial.