An ultra modern building for peace and security

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is today officially opening the new Peace and Security Building of the African Union in Ethiopia.

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is today officially opening the new Peace and Security Building of the African Union in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The ultra–modern, energy-efficient building is a gift from the Federal Republic of Germany to the African Union, and was built by Ethiopian building contractors with the support of GIZ International Services at a cost of some 30 million euros. The commissioning party was the German Federal Foreign Office. 

As early as the planning stage, GIZ pursued a unique approach: rather than calling in German construction companies, contracts for building work were placed almost exclusively with Ethiopian companies. More than 500 Ethiopian engineers, architects, skilled workers, craftspersons and labourers were involved in the project. GIZ transferred the expertise required through training at various levels. ‘I have learned so much working here,’ says foreman Frezer Sida, who is now passing on his newly acquired knowledge to his workers. The companies involved in the construction project have thus gained new expertise that they can continue to use. AU staff are also to be trained to ensure the sustainable operation of the building.

The conscious decision to use local materials, including natural stone, ensured that the Ethiopian economy benefited from the building work.

The building complies with international environmental standards, takes account of all the additional complexities of building in an earthquake area, and was designed to be sustainable, even during construction. All the necessary materials were re-used: scaffolding, for instance, was subsequently used as an assembly bridge. The special construction features ensure that the building is energy efficient and appropriate for the prevailing climate: the special roof construction provides for year-round natural ventilation, while climate-neutral cooling systems are powered by a heat pump which uses water basins in the basement and the water from the fire water ponds in front of the building. No additional energy is needed to run the full climate control system, apart from the power used to operate the pumps of the circulation system. Manfred Off, GIZ’s site manager explains, ‘The building uses the most modern technology available anywhere in the world.’

Today’s handover of the building by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel marks the official end of four years of construction work, giving the African Union’s Peace and Security Council a modern conference room and the staff of the AU’s Peace and Security Department an excellent working environment. As well as offices and a plenary chamber, situation and operation rooms are fitted out with the most modern technology available for crisis early warning work, monitoring the peace and security situation on the continent, and deploying and monitoring AU peace missions.

GIZ works for the African Union on behalf of the German Government in numerous other projects including measures in the fields of education, migration and regional economic integration. By way of example, vocational training systems are being further developed and value chains optimised, for example in the agricultural sector, in order to make a contribution to food and nutrition security and to reducing poverty in the long term.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a German federal enterprise with worldwide operations. It supports the German Government in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work. GIZ helps individuals and societies take charge of their own future and improve their living conditions.