News / Africa

Inauguration of New AU Headquarters Celebrates China's Rise in Africa

A traditional dancer performs during the inauguration of the new African Union headquaters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012.
A traditional dancer performs during the inauguration of the new African Union headquaters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012.

The African Union has inaugurated a new headquarters with tributes to China's rise in Africa, and to the political prisoners who died in the jail that once occupied the site.

The new $200 million Chinese-built headquarters was officially opened by China's senior political adviser Jia Qinglin, standing in for Premier Hu Jintao.

In a speech to an audience of heads of state and African diplomats in the spectacular 2500-seat Grand Hall, Jia hailed the rapid growth of China-Africa relations. China's trade with African countries reached $150 billion last year, he said, a 13 fold increase in the past decade.

Others at the ceremony praised China as the model for Africa's economic growth.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. (file photo)
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. (file photo)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi derided western economic prescriptions of the late 20th century as “medicine that turned out to be worse than the disease."

He singled out The Economist magazine for criticism, saying policies it advocated a decade ago had set the continent on the path to  recolonization.

"The Economist, which espouses the very market fundamentalist ideas that wrecked our economies, had a banner headline in one of its issues which simply read, 'The Hopeless Continent.' Clearly, these pundits, these experts and international magazines had given up on Africa," Meles said.

The Ethiopian leader suggested that the recent rapid growth experienced by many African countries had coincided with the trend toward adoption of China's state-led economic model. He said western economists were having to reconsider their ideas in light of what he called “the African Renaissance."

"The pundits and academics who were publicly advocating for the recolonization of our continent have now refrained from doing so, at least in polite company," said Meles. "The very magazine that came up with the banner headline, 'The Hopeless Continent' a decade ago, has recently come up with a new banner headline that simply read, 'Africa Rising.' Africa is rising indeed. The African Renaissance has begun."

The ceremonies included dedication of a memorial to victims of the Red Terror campaign during the previous Ethiopian government led by Marxist dictator Mengistu Hailemariam. Prime Minister Meles noted that the new AU headquarters had been built over the site of the maximum security prison where opponents of the Mengistu regime were tortured and executed.

"People in Ethiopia used to call that infamous prison Alem Bekagn. Loosely translated it means, 'I have given up on this life.'  This building, which will now house the headquarters of our continental organization, is built on the ruins of a prison that represented desperation and hopelessness."

African heads of state will convene Sunday for a two-day meeting in the new conference hall. The summit theme, "Boosting Intra-African Trade," is being overshadowed by several hotly contested elections for leadership posts.

AU Commission chairman Jean Ping's bid for a second term is being challenged by South Africa's veteran freedom fighter and former foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The election, by a secret ballot of African heads of state, is set for Monday.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs