ADDIS ABABA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Saturday revealed the signing of contract agreement with three international companies to renovate the historic Africa Hall in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
The latest agreement among the UN-ECA and the three construction companies marks the commencement of renovation works of the Africa Hall inside the premises of the ECA headquarters in Addis Ababa at a cost of 28.2 million U.S. dollars, the ECA said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The overall Africa Hall Renovation and Modernization Project, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 with a budget of about 57 million, mainly envisioned a complete renovation of Africa Hall main building.
"The signing with contractors, Africa Hall Projects FZE, marks a paramount milestone of this iconic project," an ECA statement read.
"The contract for the renovation and refurbishment of Africa Hall is the biggest ever signed by the ECA with a supplier."
Africa Hall, which was inaugurated prior to the establishment of the Organization of the African Unity (OAU) in 1963, is considered as a historic venue mainly for hosting the formation of the OAU - predecessor of the 55-member African bloc, African Union (AU).
According to ECA's Director of Administration Carlos Haddad, "the renovation will be completed on time and delivered in 2021 as budgeted for."
"We are excited by the signing of the main renovation works contract which paves way to upgrade the safety standards and restore the state-of-the-art technology while preserving the historic and heritage values to Africa Hall. We are confident," an ECA statement quoted Haddad as saying.
The iconic hall was built between 1959 and 1961 and inaugurated on February 26, 1961 by Ethiopia's former Emperor Haileselassie, who is considered as one of the founding fathers of the African Union, the former OAU.
The complete renovation of Africa Hall main building embraces various works that include surrounding landscape works, a new Visitor Entry Building, upgrading the ECA compound perimeter's wall, a new visitor car park and road-works external to the ECA compound, it was noted.
Alem Kiros, Director and Legal Representative for Africa Hall Projects FZE, said that the restoration work is a "great opportunity" that followed two and a half years of negotiations.
"The project will be delivered up to expectation and even beyond with the expertise of the contractors who have special skills with such levels of renovation," Kiros said.
The ECA had previously indicated that the renovation project, when completed, aims to transform Africa Hall into a rejuvenated facility, complying with the highest international standards for conference facilities.
As part of preserving and restoring the historical and cultural values embedded in its architecture, the project also include a permanent exhibition to turn historic hall into one of the leading tourist destinations in Addis Ababa and highlight its significant role in the UN and in modern African history, according to the ECA.
George Ogboro, Chief of Supply Chain Management Section at the ECA, said that the project "is a major milestone not only for the contractor but also for Africa as a whole. African countries will be proud of the hall even more when the modernization project is completed."
Ogboro also stressed the ECA's "maximum support" towards the successful completion of the renovation work.