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HomeInterviewErecting Oromia Insurance’s Skyscraper

Erecting Oromia Insurance’s Skyscraper

Oromia Insurance S.C. / OIC/ was established and licensed by the National Bank of Ethiopia and commenced operation on 9 February 2009. It was established by 540 founding shareholders with subscribed and paid up capital of birr 85 Million and 26 Million, respectively. The company introduced different products at different times to meet the needs of the society.
OIC started the first of its operation with General Insurance in 2009. With inspiration to reach the low income farmers and pastoralists, OIC introduced Agriculture and Microinsurance in 2010. To impact the livelihood of the society, OIC commenced Life and Health Insurance in 2011. To meet the interest ofthe Muslim society and comply with sharia rules and principles, OIC introduced and commenced Halal Takaful Insurance,very recently in 2022.
This is indicative of the fact that the company commenced operation with strong and reliable financial capacity which makes it the first of its kind to mobilize such a highest amount of paid up capital in the country’s insurance industry. OIC has over 1,098 total shareholders. Moreover, the diversity of its shareholders, with more than 1,600,000 low income farmers and pastoralists through their farmers’ cooperative unions, speaks about its strong social base.
The Company, with a clear vision of becoming a leading private insurer by 2030 in Ethiopia, has crafted a suitable mission that is, ‘customized to address the insurance needs of its customers’ and has also developed a stretched strategic plan to make sure its vision is realized.
Oromia Insurance (S.C) believes that the quality of its workforce is cardinal to its success. As a result, it boasts of an energetic executive management team with an ocean of insurance experience and leadership skills. The Company’s human capital, in general, comprises bright young, diligent and loyal employees who are committed to ensure the quality of customer services. OIC human capital is of diverse backgrounds and well trained to cope up with demanding and dynamic customer services needs usually manifested in customer satisfaction with underwriting and claims processing services.
OIC is relatively young, but has a very strong financial capacity, with an authorized capital of 1 billion birr, subscribed capital of 945.68 million birr, paid-up capital of 642.66 million birr and a total asset as of March 2022, of 2.13 billion birr. To modernize its services in 2021, the insurance has started construction of its own headquarters.
Capital’s Metasebia Teshome caught up with Zeleke Belay (Architect), CEO of Zeleke Belay Architects, and Efrem Abdissa (Eng.), Project Manager (OIC) for insights on the current progress of the up and coming skyscraper at the throbbing metropolis in the capital. Excerpts;

Capital: Describe to us the architectural masterpiece being erected at the heart of the central business district as well as its features.
Zeleke Belay: We are living in exciting design times as a country where we can draw out an elegant tower out of an unusually elongated plot. With regards to the overall design, the natural triangular tip of the site was exploited to generate the tower geometry. The anchoring core shifts in the grid angle to maximize tower footprint extending to both ends of the plot boundary. It then rises up and loops atop unifying the tower. Together with the chamfered triangular tip forms an iconic character, identifiable in the city skyline of the nation’s capital.
A unique addition to the complex is the sky bridge at the top of the tower. It is customary in many cities to climb to high-rise buildings and enjoy the beautiful scenery of a city. OIC tower shall be one of the high points in Addis. We thought to add few extra floors and exploit the natural geometry of this building and provide such a touristic attraction to the building. The master plan has designated this area as a free height zone.
Having four basements, the building will be located between the premises of the Ethiopian Coffee, Tea Marketing and Development Authority and the Federal Small & Medium Manufacturing Industry Development Agency across from the Wabi Shebelle Hotel.
Expected to rest on 3,004square meters of land near Mexico Square, the building is estimated to cost the insurance firm somewhere between 1.5 billion birr and two billion birr, dependant on inflation. The building is slated to be completed in three phases: shoring and excavation; structural work; and finishing.
The main building is a skyscraper with 40 floors and will have 5 basements, of which four will be parking floors whilst the other will provide special services. And there will also be a side building.
It will be enough to handle all the services rendered by the owner, OIC, and will benefit others through renting of the property for other commercial services.

Capital: Who is the lead contractor? What are the timelines of the construction period? What personally is your role in the construction?
Zeleke Belay: The construction is being spearheaded by the top notch contractor which is the Chinese state-owned firm that is constructing major buildings in the country, Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Cooperation. The project is expected to cost 1.1 billion birr for the 35-storey building at the heart of Mexico Square.
With regards to the project timeline, we are expecting it to be completed within three to four years time. As for me, I am the lead architect and CEO of Zeleke Belay Architects. After my design firm won the design bid floated in 2018, we came up with the design that you see coming to fruition today. Currently, we are supervising the construction of the building.

Capital: What stage is this grand project at?
Zeleke and Efrem: We are pleased to state that we have successfully laid the crucial part, which is the foundation, as a result we have completed close to 20 percent of the project.
The deep foundation that was completed was at the back of a hard work and effort which was pulled in for 5 consecutive non-stop days without interruption for 24 hours. This workmanship is extraordinary and can go on record as the deep foundation took more than 3 million Kilos of cement (30,000 quintals) to construct in the span of 5days.
Of course there is a myriad of challenges that had to be overcome to realize this success, as we all know of the cement shortage in our country, in addition to the rainy season which is tricky when it comes to constructing a foundation of this magnitude. This success is attributed by the different skills of labor present during the construction both during the day and night shifts, and this sense of construction stewardship will continue until the construction is 100 percent complete over the coming couple of years.

Capital: Prices of construction materials are soaring, and in addition the shortage of cement in the country has posed big challenges to the construction sector. How are you facing these hurdles?
Zeleke and Efrem: It has taken concerted efforts of all involved in the project to face all the challenges that we are currently facing so as to deliver on this project. We are currently on a stage where we can’t stop construction because of such challenges, even though the cement prices are high and scarce in the market, we have to make use of what we have got.

Capital: What is your evaluation of the project with the perspective as a project manager from the owner’s side?
Efrem Abdissa: Of course we are aware of the challenges that have heaped the construction sector, stemming from cement price hikes and shortages to rise in other construction materials as well. Even for the just completed foundation phase there was need for special type of construction materials of which prices were high, but it’s safe to say given the circumstance the progress of construction is on a brilliant trajectory.
As earlier stated, given the workmanship and diligence that has been seen in getting the foundation done, we expect it to be completed within the planned time.

Capital: What are the main challenges you are facing in the construction phase thus far?
Efrem Abdissa: Besides shortage of construction materials, the rainy weather has also presented challenged which however have been swiftly mitigated. Another challenge is that the area of the construction is at the heart of the city which is known for its traffic jam, which logistically presents some challenges. Nonetheless, with the help of the Addis Ababa traffic management office, we are coping up the issue as they have assisted immensely in helping us out.
With the crucial stage in the foundation having been successfully completed, I believe the remaining stages will go on smoothly, without any hick-ups.


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