The Addis Abeba City Administration plans to invest over 10 billion Br for a new exhibition and convention centre to be built in the heart of the capital.
The Convention Centre will occupy nearly 10ha of land encompassing a 24,000sqm area that is owned by the Exhibition Center & Market Development Enterprise at Mesqel Square.
The project will be the largest conference and exhibition place in the city, replete with conference halls, a “seven-star” hotel, a flexible exhibition centre and a parking lot that accommodates over 2,500 vehicles. The centre will also feature a museum inside its premises according to the plans.
The planned auditorium and conference halls will sprawl over 17,000sqm, while the total area designated for conference and exhibition space is 57,000sqm. The halls are designed to accommodate flexible spaces ranging from 4,000sqm to 12,000sqm.
“While the demand has been growing, supply has remained constant for years,” said Tamrat Admasu, general manager of the Enterprise. “That is why the construction of the centre became essential.”
The existing centre has served as the lone location for exhibitions and expos since its establishment in 1983 by the city administration. It currently hosts three pavilions of different sizes that can each hold up to 90 booths and an open space with a capacity for 140 stalls. A fourth pavilion is rented to outside businesses as a concession for gymnasium services, and another four cottages and a traditional restaurant are located within the compound.
On average, the centre hosts up to 52 events a year, and it earned 80 million Br last fiscal year, up from 4.1 million Br 14 years ago.
“A decade and a half ago, the number of event organisers was 10,” said Tamrat. “Now the number has grown to 250, including government institutions.”
The construction of the new centre is scheduled to commence during the first quarter of 2019 and is expected to be finalised within three years after commencement of construction.
The preliminary design of the convention centre was prepared by the Spanish company, Fira Barcelona, which was established in 1932 as a public-private partnership between the Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Generalitat and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. A feasibility study developed for the project contains two parts, a business plan and preliminary design work that took three years to complete.
The designs and the plans were reviewed during four forums organised by a task force with members from the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association, City Trade and Construction Bureau and the mayor’s office.
“The city administration has designated the plot for the project, and we are currently expecting residents in the area to be relocated,” said Elias Geneti, president of the city chamber, which has been managing the centre for the past 13 years under contract for the city administration.
A tender to develop detailed engineering designs and construction plans for the project will be floated by Addis Abeba Construction Bureau in about 30 days, according to Tamrat.
The project will be a springboard for the county to tap businesses in the thriving travel-meeting tourism, according to experts.
“It will also boost the city, making it more vibrant and active in other chain businesses, such as creating a modern transportation system, food and beverage quality, supplies and the hotel business,” said Kumneger Teketel, managing director of Ozzie Business & Hospitality Group.
Tamrat agrees. The centre will have a positive contribution to making Addis Abeba one of the smart cities, he said.
The Enterprise is planning to target international event organisers whom it hopes will constitute 80pc of the clients for the new centre. The city has also prepared a prospectus to source financing for the construction project.
“We will approach embassies, international financial institutions and UN agencies to solicit funds,” Tamrat told Fortune.
The city administration is also involved in the development of another convention centre valued at 2.7 billion Br, Addis Africa International Convention & Exhibition Center. The city is a major shareholder in this two-phase project, which is under construction in Yeka District by CGCOC Group Ltd. The project incorporates a convention and exhibition centre, shops, a conference centre with a capacity to hold 5,000 people, a restaurant and a hotel.
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