Addis Ababa — Members of the newly constituted advisory board of the Africa Hall Renovation Project met on Thursday 10 August, 2017 at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa to deliberate on their role in facilitating the project's success.
The board, which came into official existence on 1 August 2017, is composed of six fulltime and three Ex Officio members under the chairmanship of Albert R. Chimbindi, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Ethiopia.
In his welcome remarks, ECA's Deputy Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, told the board members that the Commission is "truly grateful and extremely delighted that you all accepted to be part of this project, which somehow epitomizes Africa's history."
Mr. Hamdok gave them a brief background on the cultural and historical significance of Africa Hall, highlighting that "it is the birth place of the OAU." Meanwhile, in a bid to get the board up to speed, project manager - Antonio Baio - made a presentation on what aspects of the renovation project have been achieved and what the plan for the next stages looks like.
In his capacity as chair, Mr. Chimbindi thanked the Commission for his appointment and stated that this first meeting is "crucial as it provides opportunity for us to meet fellow team members, familiarize ourselves with the project, discuss and understand the terms of reference and agree on how to move forward."
The Africa Hall Renovation Project was approved by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) in 2015 with a budget of about $57 million. The GA then encouraged the establishment of an advisory board that is "independent and impartial, with its membership reflecting a wide geographical representation while ensuring that required expertise."
The fulltime board members include Albert R. Chimbindi, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Ethiopia; Daniel Hunn, Swiss Ambassador to Ethiopia; Jaime Andres Chomali Garib, Chilean Ambassador to Ethiopia; Fafre Camara, Malian Ambassador to Ethiopia; Renato Proietti, Italian architect; and Mohammed Amin Moghrrab, Iranian architect.
The Ex Officio members consist of the host country/ Ethiopia representative, Konjit Sinegiorgis; AUC representative, Fantahun Haile Michael; and a representative from UNESCO, Getu Asefa.
The board is expected to make written recommendations and observations on all aspects of the project to the Executive Secretary.
During the meeting, all the board members expressed gratitude for being appointed to serve as part of the team and pledged their commitment to ensuring that the project is successful.
The Swiss Ambassador said, "Switzerland is honored to be part of the board. We highly value the need to preserve the cultural heritage of Africa Hall and we have secured financial support for it. We also supported this project at the GA level."
For his part, the Malian ambassador said he was "honored to represent my country and I commit myself totally to the work of this board." Meanwhile, the AUC representative stated that, "on behalf of the AUC I want to thank you and tell you that the AUC will do its best to see that this project succeeds."
In an earlier statement, Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe - who was on another mission and could not attend the board meeting - stated, "As we look forward to a completely renovated Africa Hall by 2021, I wish to express my gratitude to the Advisory Board members for accepting to be part of this historic project."
The Africa Hall Project is expected to be completed by 2021. Board members are appointed for 2-year renewable terms. The Project also has a Secretariat Support Staff made up of Antonio Baio, the project manager who also serves as secretary of the board; Collen V. Kelapile, ECA Chief of Staff, Carlos Haddad, ECA Director of Administration; Jack Howard, Chief of Overseas Properties Management Unit at UNHQ and Audrey Hon, Architect & Deputy Project Manager for Africa Hall.