The African Union’s Peace and Security Building is earthquake-proof and was built in line with international standards for environmentally sound construction.
More than 500 Ethiopian experts were involved in the construction process, and the training they received will also benefit them in the long term. They are now specialists in sustainable building with high-tech materials.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Building, which was constructed over a four-year period as part of Ethio-German cooperation, is climate-friendly and energy-efficient. At the new building in Addis Ababa, 360 AU staff have modern offices, a plenary hall for meetings of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, an operations and crisis centre for managing peace missions, a library and conference rooms.
The building is a gift from the Republic of Germany to the African Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel officially handed it over in October 2016. It was built for the AU and financed by the German Foreign Office. The German development agency GIZ was commissioned with the planning and construction work, which involved managing the project with its construction budget of about 30 million Euro.
Environmentally appropriate and earthquake-resistant
Sustainability was central to the concept for the new building – the Peace and Security Building has been erected in line with international standards for environmentally sound building while taking into account the special requirements of an earthquake area. Throughout construction it was ensured that all materials were reused. Scaffolding, for instance, was subsequently used as an assembly bridge.
The high tech roof consists of a highly transparent, heat-resistant material that allows UV rays to enter the building. Not only is the material self-cleaning, and not only does it have an unlimited service life, it is also elastic and tear-resistant. That makes the roof earthquake-proof. The construction – it does not rest airtight on the walls of the building – makes it possible to naturally ventilate the building all year round.
‘The building uses the most modern technology available anywhere in the world. It is energy efficient and designed for minimum environmental impact,’ says Manfred Off, GIZ’s site manager.
Climate-neutral cooling systems are powered by a heat pump, which is fed by the water basins in the building’s basement and the five-metre-deep 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 circulating pump.
New expertise for Ethiopian building constructors
The new building has been erected almost entirely by Ethiopian contractors. German or international specialists were only called in where very special expertise was required. Over the entire term of the project, the GIZ has provided training for more than 500 Ethiopian engineers, architects, skilled workers, tradespersons and other workers on site.
‘I have learned so much working here,’ says foreman Frezer Sida, who is now passing on his newly acquired knowledge to his workers. Although work is completed on the Peace and Security Building, Ethiopia now has its own specialists and contractors capable of building in a sustainable manner using high tech materials. In future they will be involved in operating and maintaining the AU building.
As well as working for peace and security, the GIZ and the African Union cooperate in a number of other areas. On behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Foreign Office, who are the main commissioning parties, the GIZ and the African Union are together implementing other projects in the fields of education, regional economic integration, good governance and migration.