Ethiopia is struggling with an economic crisis, warring militias and struggles with neighboring countries. Resources are extremely scarce. But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (47) wants to build an expensive monument for himself: a national palace and luxury villas for his top officials. Cost price: 10 billion dollars (more than 9 billion euros).
One of the most expensive palaces in the world is being built on an area the size of 500 football fields on and around a forested hill overlooking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. In addition to a palace, there will also be three artificial lakes, a waterfall, a luxury hotel, villas, conference halls, a zoo and a cable car, reports ‘The Globe and Mail’.
The houses of local residents have to make way for the construction of the palace and the construction of new roads. Curious people who want to catch a glimpse of the structure are in for a treat. Soldiers are blocking the road, a reporter from the German newspaper ‘Die Welt’ notes.
The $10 billion prestige project will be financed by private and international donations, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced in parliament. The cost of the construction work would correspond to approximately two-thirds of the annual state budget.
This is a huge amount of money being spent, while the country is virtually broke. The project is being built on the ruins of a devastated economy and inflation of almost 30 percent is driving up costs even further.
The government says it needs about 20 billion dollars (18.24 billion euros) for post-war reconstruction in Tigray, including two billion dollars (1.8 billion euros) from the International Monetary Fund. In addition, Ethiopia has also received billions in humanitarian aid from the United Nations and other aid organizations in recent years. And in the meantime, new conflicts are flaring up.
But the financing of the extensive construction work is shrouded in secrecy and parliamentary scrutiny is not allowed. Ethiopia’s closest ally in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates, has been mentioned as one of the possible donors. Where all the other money will come today is a big question mark.
But this has not stopped Abiy from pressing ahead with his prestigious projects, which he believes are appropriate for a country with a population of 120 million.
“The government believes in development at any cost,” says a local engineer working on the project on ‘Die Welt’. “But I think the damage done outweighs the benefits. In some areas the drinking water supply has already been reduced for more than six closed for months to literally drive the residents away. That is not fair,” the man explains.
The project should be the future pride of Ethiopia. The engineer is a bit ashamed that he is participating.
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