“One might wonder why the capital city of a nation whose culture dates more than a thousand years old seems so eagerly in need of modernity? And, more specifically, when it comes to its heritage, why a nation with a tradition of reclaiming monuments such as the Obelisk of Axum, the Lion of Judah, or the Thrones of the Emperor Haile Selassie and the Empress Menen authorises the demolition of the city's historical sites for the sake of urban development ”
Addis Abeba is the capital city of Ethiopia and is where the African Union is based and also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and numerous other continental and international organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as "the political or capital of Africa" due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent. The city was founded in 1886 and is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census with annual growth rate of 3.8%.
According to the World Bank, Ethiopia’s “strong and broad-based growth over the past decade” has lifted its GDP to an impressive average of 10% per year. The high growth admittedly started from a low base, but it has catapulted Ethiopia from being identified with the infamous famine of the 1980s into a premier club member of the world’s fastest growing economies. The East African nation is pouring billions into, among other things, building basic infrastructure in energy, rail and road transport.
The city is in the middle of a construction boom with lots of new skyscrapers, condos and roads making it look like a construction site. It is growing rapidly in modernity compared to other African cities and the skyline suddenly has more halfway-done high-rise buildings than ever before, as well as new hotels being built at a breakneck speed. Hotels, shopping centres and office complexes rise from where small shacks once stood. Addis Ababa’s construction boom — funded both from private and public coffers — is being driven by the country’s recent rapid economic growth and the government hopes it will attract further investment and help industrialize the economy so Ethiopia can reach middle-income status by 2025.
Addis Abeba is being remodelled as a city the same way Paris was partially destroyed and rebuilt by Baron Haussman, who was chosen by Emperor Napoleon III to carry out a massive program of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris, and his vision of the city still dominates Central Paris today. No wonder some people speculate that in some years to come, Addis will be the new Dubai of Africa.