Sheger Grand Dinner, which will gather do-gooders willing to fork five million birr for a plate to help rehabilitate rivers in the city, will be hosted on May 19 at the Hall of Atse Menelik II Palace.
The river side grand project is covering a distance of 56 kilometers from Entoto to Akaki and will be finished within three years for an estimated cost of 29 billion birr.
So far several countries and international organizations have promised to back the project by providing finance, while local and international companies are already buying the five million birr plate to be part of the historical contribution for the beautification of the capital city, Billene Seyoum, Press Secretariat of Office of the Prime Minister, told Capital.
“We expecting more in the coming few days but currently 200 plus have already registered,” she said.
The program will start at 3 pm by visiting the historical compound that was closed to the public since its establishment but when PM Abiy Ahmed came to power, he stated that, after renovation, he would open the historical Atse Menelik II Palace, which is on the same compound of the PM office and residence, to the general public and tourists.
Currently, the renovation work is ongoing and should be open to visitors around the beginning of the next Ethiopian New Year in September, 2019.
The Press Secretariat stated that exclusive tour would be facilitated for the guests at part of the 40 hectare Menelik Palace compound, which is considered as the starting point of renovation and beautification of Addis Ababa that will extend to all over the country.
“The tour would give a chance what is undertaking there and show the guests where their positional fund is going and how is valuable and historical,” she explained. According to the PM office statement the contributors name would be tagged at the river side project and their pictures will be placed on the public library that will be erected under the same project. “They (guests) are also ambassadors of the launching project,” Billene added.
According to Billene, there are two schemes for raising the funds. “The one is the upcoming grand dinner, while it is also open for those who are interested in providing their support directly for the project,” she said.
For instance, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) announced that it has allocated half a billion birr for the project. “CBE has put its funds in two ways. It bought ten plates on the dinner and the balance 450 million birr in direct support for the project,” she explained.
Currently individuals, financial institutions, companies (local and FDI), and other interested bodies have already paid their five or more million birr to be part of the event.
Nigusu Tilahun, Press Secretariat at the PM Office, told journalists on Thursday May 9 that the goal of the project is for this and other Ethiopian cities to be clean and suitable for citizens and visitors.
“Several local and international communities appreciate the project and are providing their support. So far from abroad UNDP/UNIDO, African Development Bank, and the Italian government provide USD 1 million, USD 600,000 and five million euro respectively,” he added.
He said that the government of China has agreed to undertake the design and contribute a quarter of the project.
Currently, renovation work at the old Menelik Palace and establishing recreation parks, a zoo, a kids’ play ground area and other facilities is in progress. The coming World Economic Forum on Africa 2020 is also expected to be held in the over a century old Menelik Palace Hall.