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City admin seeks funding for mega tourist destination project

City admin seeks funding for mega tourist destination project

The Addis Ababa City Administration will be looking for loans from international financial institutions for the development of a mega tourist destination at Mount Entoto in the northern part of the city at a cost of 4.8 billion birr.

The city administration is planning to build a vast tourist recreation center on 4,200 hectares plot in the Entoto forest. At the third general assembly of the Addis Ababa City Tourism Transformation Council held on Tuesday at Getfam Hotel Hiyab Gebretsadik (PhD), director of the Entoto Tourist Destination Development Project, said that the huge project has four major packages – recreation center, artifact manufacturing, display and training center, nationalities cultural center and international athletics village. Hiyab said that 60 percent of the 4,200 hectares has been degraded adding that a vast afforestation work would be undertaken by planting two million trees.

The Entoto Tourist Destination Development Project incorporates recreation centers, a vast park, zoo, lodges, restaurants, children’s play grounds, artificial ponds, swimming pools, tennis courts, a golf course, horseback riding and camel caravan yards, museums and cultural center that depicts Ethiopian nationalities houses culture and traditions. A 500 meter building tower that would be a land mark of Addis Ababa will be erected. The tower would have restaurants, observation rooms, coffee and athletics museums. The architecture of the tower reflects the designs of Lalibela, Axum, Fasilides Castle and Harar Jegol wall. An international athletics village is also part of the vast tourist destination development project. According to Hiyab, the project would create 14,000 jobs. The total cost of the project is estimated at 4.8 billion birr.
Hiyab said that the project’s feasibility study has been conducted adding that tender specifications have been developed. He hopes to float the tender for the design and construction work in July and plans to commence construction in 2018.

Mayor of Addis Ababa and chairman of the Addis Ababa City Administration, however, said that his administration would not rush to start construction. “It is a huge project that we would pass for generations. And we need to do it painstakingly as we are developing the tourist center in a forest,” Mayor Diriba Kuma told the council. The Addis Ababa City Tourism Transformation Council, which has 71 members, was established three years ago with the objective of making Addis Ababa a tourism hub by developing and promoting tourist destinations.

The mayor said that the city administration would organize consultative meetings with city residents, environmentalists, architects and engineers, historians and deliberate on the massive project that would make Addis Ababa a leading tourist destination in Africa. “We drew lessons from countries like China, Korea and France which developed similar projects. We want to invite experts from these countries to share their experiences,” the mayor told the participants.

Diriba told The Reporter that the city administration would be building major infrastructure like roads, tower, sport and cultural centers. He said the private sector under the supervision of the administration would build hotels, lodges, and many other tourist institutions that would serve tourists. “Through open tenders, investors would develop various service centers based on the designs and specifications provided by the city administration.”

The source of project financing is an area of concern. Diriba told The Reporter that the World Bank has conducted a feasibility study on the project and confirmed that the project is feasible. “It is a very feasible project. We would present a bankable project proposal to the World Bank, Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of China and other lending institutions,” the mayor said.

He said that the city administration has limited financial resources adding that the administration would prepare terms of reference and will invite international financial intuitions to provide expression of interest to finance the project. 

The Entoto Tourist Destination Project would be undertaken through three phases in five years’ time. The city administration would soon deliberate with hotel associations, tour operators and scholars on the project.

In the report presented by the Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau to the Addis Ababa City Tourism Transformation Council, the Bureau indicated that it has rehabilitated the Addis Ababa Museum with 16 million birr secured from the World Bank and three million birr budget from the City Administration. It has also renovated the Arat Kilo Miazia 27 Victory Statue and Sidist Kilo Martyrs Statue at a cost of five million birr. The Bureau plans to refurbish the Emperor Menelik II Statue and Tewodros Square Sebastopol Statue next year.

The Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau is building a Children and Youth Theater, a modern Cinema at a cost of 248 million birr and it is in the process of building a new Cinema and Theater Hall at Cinema Ras, an old theater hall in the heart of Mercato.

By Kaleyesus Bekele