But Hailemariam singled out Beijing, expressing his “deepest appreciation to China for investing billions … to assist our infrastructure endeavours.” Saturday’s celebrations will be followed by a two-day AU summit meeting, to tackle the range of crises the continent faces. Mass dancing troupes perform musical dramas yesterday to some 10,000 guests in a giant hall in the Ethiopian capital, choreographed by the same team who organised the lavish opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup and this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The AU has budgeted US$1.27 million for yesterday’s celebrations, according to official documents seen by South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS). AU Commission deputy chief Erastus Mwencha said he did not have the exact figure but that some US$3 million would be spent at yesterday’s festivities and on other events over the coming year.
Musicians expected to perform for African leaders include Congolese music legend Papa Wemba, Mali’s Salif Keita and British-based reggae band Steel Pulse, with giant screens set up across Addis Ababa also showing the festival. Development indicators on the continent – including health, education, infant mortality, economic growth and democracy – have improved steadily in the past 50 years.
Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world according to the IMF, and has attracted huge amounts of foreign investment in recent years, with Kerry praising the “economic possibilities, growth and development” on the continent. At the same time 24 out of the 25 nations at the bottom of UN human development index are in Africa.