The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organized its monthly Press Briefing on “Africa Hall and Pan-Africanism: Past, Present, and Future” on Monday 10 October with Antonio Baio, Project Manager of the Africa Hall, ECA and Getachew Kassa, supervisor of the Africa Hall Project at the ECA. The focus of the briefing was to present the renovation project of the Africa Hall which will modernize and ensure the building complies with international standards.
Supervisor of the Africa Hall Project, ECA, Getachew Kassa, outlined the historical significance of the Africa Hall, which was inaugurated in 1961 hosting several important meetings in the history of Pan-Africanism, including the liberation of Africa from colonialism. The Hall was conceived and donated by the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie to serve as headquarters of ECA, with a vision of attracting the UN to Africa and uniting African Nations.
It is also the birthplace of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union (AU), and whose founding Charter was signed in the Hall in 1963.
“The Hall stands as a living symbol of African history, the culture, noble aspirations of African people for peace and unity on the continent which is free of colonialism,” explained Getachew Kassa.
Antonio Biao, Project Manager of the Africa Hall at the ECA underlined the significance of the renovation project, which will modernize and upgrade the Hall’s structural and technological facilities. The renovation will strengthen its resistance to earthquakes and includes the development of new security buildings as well as improving the building’s accessibility, to make the Africa Hall modern, safe, and functional. The renovation project will also see the creation of a visitors’ center and a permanent exhibition space.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly approved the budget of $57 million for the project. The renovation project was funded by the 193 member states. Antoni Biao explained the renovations will, “respect the original design principles including Afewerk Tekle’s stained-glass triptych – ‘The Total Liberation of Africa’ – and main features with special attention paid to art works and signs, whilst upholding the best international standards and practice.” Baio also called for voluntary contributions, in particular from African Member States since the renovation project is important for the preservation of Africa’s history and culture.
In closing, discussions with the journalists focused on the importance of protecting the integrity of the Africa Hall from a historical perspective by involving experts and the desire to link all the African States donations – cultural artworks, official documents of historical events which took place in the Africa Hall – to the history of Africa Hall.
Since its conception more than half a century ago, the Africa Hall stands as a living symbol of Africa’s history, culture, and noble aspirations of African People for peace and unity on a continent free of Colonialism. It also represents one of the most prominent examples of African architectural heritage.
The Africa Hall ground-breaking ceremony took place on 14 October 2022 with the Hall being expected to be re-opened mid-2024.