Ethiopia: Currency Shortage Hinders Stadium Construction

opinion

Foreign currency shortage and resettlement of illegal settlers has hindered the completion of the National Stadium, The Reporter has learnt.

The construction of the National Stadium a.k.a. Adey Abeba was launched 5 years ago. During the inception of the construction of the stadium, it was meant to be completed in two years time; however, lack of foreign currency posed a critical challenge to do so. Initially the budget allotted for the construction of the project was USD 100 million, however, as the project lags behind its schedule the cost is expected to rise. The stadium has 60,000 seats and will also have a parking space that accommodates 10,000 cars at a time.

It can be recalled that the Ethiopian Sport Commission launched the second phase of the construction of the stadium last year after the project was halted for almost a year due to lack of foreign currency and pledged it will be completed on time.

The oldest Stadium of the country that hosts so many international games, Addis Ababa Stadium, unfortunately could not fulfill FIFA's standard to host a match. Therefore, due to its outdated facilities, the Addis Ababa Stadium was banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) from holding international games. Subsequent to launching the second phase of the new stadium, the Commission allotted more than 50 million birr to conduct renovation works in order to standardize Addis Ababa stadium.

Addis Ababa stadium, built during Emperor Haileselassie's tenure, eventually became overcrowded and sub standardized as a result of poor renovation works. Subsequently, Abebe Bikila stadium was renewed with intent to ease the burden of Addis Ababa stadium.

However, managed by the Addis Ababa City Administration, Abebe Bikila stadium has not been able to get the right funding and renovation work to bring it up to standard due to continuous cabinet reshuffles and volatility.

The Ethiopian Sport Commission, which is overseeing the project, said in a social media post that even though the construction of the stadium is on track, challenges related to foreign currency shortages and re-locating illegal settlers residing around the stadium has become deterring.

According to the Sport Commission, Minister of Culture and Tourism Hirut Kassaw (PhD) and Deputy Sport Commissioner, Dube Julo, visited the site on February 21, 2021 to monitor the current status and progress of the stadium. The project's performance report was also presented to the delegates during the visit in the presence of contractors and consultants engaged in the construction.

As a result, the delegates promised to consult concerned bodies to tackle foreign currency shortages and discuss with the City Administration to resolve the issue related to relocating the illegal settlers around the stadium.

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