In Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed’s 9 billion euro real estate splurge

Yeka district, a once-quiet hilltop overlooking Addis Ababa, has been transformed into a gigantic construction site. Excavators and bulldozers work day and night, destroying forests and fields for one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in Ethiopian history: a huge palace that will become the official residence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He is the most enthusiastic supporter of the Chaka Project (“Forest” in Amharic, one of the languages ​​spoken in Ethiopia), visiting regularly to monitor the progress of the work.

“The noise is incessant, describes an ambassador who lives not far from the construction site. It is a real nuisance, disrupting our daily lives. But the authorities do not care about our complaints.”

In addition to the palace, the 503-hectare complex includes a luxury hotel, suites for visiting heads of state, ministerial residences, high-end apartments and three artificial lakes fringed with artificial palm trees. It also has roads, a total length of nearly 29 kilometers, as well as a tunnel to allow easy escape in the event of an emergency – or a coup attempt.

Private and Emirati investments

Government officials maintain that the project is not grandiloquent, but is aimed at promoting Ethiopia’s development. “It is unfortunately simplistic to talk about a ‘palace for the Prime Minister’, and it is a view of things which deliberately seeks to provoke an outcry, deplores Billene Seyoum, the spokesperson for the Prime Minister, in response to questions from The Continent. The Chaka Project is a massive national satellite city project that aims to transform the face and surroundings of Addis Ababa.”

According to Abiy Ahmed’s statements to parliamentarians, the total amount of the project could be around 10 billion dollars (9.3 billion euros). That is more than half of Ethiopia’s annual budget for (the fiscal year) 2024-2025, estimated at 17 billion (15.9 billion euros).

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