Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde on Thursday commended the progress of Ethiopia’s Chinese-built landmark recreational avenue located at the heart of the east African country’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Speaking during an event that witnessed a major milestone of the landmark recreational avenue, dubbed Friendship Square, which is part of the grand Beautifying Sheger Project in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian president said the project has been built in a way that fits Addis Ababa’s reputation as the political capital of Africa.
The Friendship Square is under construction by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) in a span of less than a year. The project is 32 hectares of the first phase.
Addis Ababa hosts the headquarters of the African Union (AU) Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) as well as more than 100 diplomatic missions.
“All Ethiopians are proud today. This public recreational place matches Addis Ababa’s reputation as Africa’s capital. This and many other things done will undoubtedly increase the stature of the city,” said Zewde.
The Ethiopian President also said Friendship Square has elements that showcase the diversity and beauty of Ethiopia.
“This is a place that makes you feel you have travelled nationwide without going outside the city,” she said.
“Seeing and doing a thing which is out of ordinary will widen our horizon,” he said.
Among the tourist attraction elements that the Friendship Square incorporated include an embossed wall, portraits of human migration routes and calla-lily-shaped podium.
Tan Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, said the Friendship Square is a timely gift to Ethiopians, who are about to celebrate their Ethiopian New Year on Friday.
The East African country on Friday will mark its unique New Year, or Enkutatash in the Amharic language, which falls on September 11 (or September 12 during a leap year), as per the country’s unique calendar that counts its year seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar.
“The friendship square could be a timely gift for this new year. It will become the new landmark of Addis Ababa,” the ambassador said.
“It has many salient features: it reflects the civilization, cultural diversity and unity of this great country, Ethiopia. It showcases the best of Ethiopia to all people across the African continent and across the world at large,” said Tan.
Tan further said the flagship project, which is built for free as part of China Aid program, will boost Ethiopia’s service sector economy and further promote the country’s tourism potential.
Already, Ethiopia and China are partnering to start the second phase of Friendship Square, which is expected to include a Palace of Science and Technology, a Wedding Garden and a Children’s Park.
Thursday’s event was attended by prominent local and international dignitaries including Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who first envisioned the project.
The event, among other things, featured a variety of dazzling performances including martial arts show, music by brass band and a military parade.