The country needs humanitarian aid because of extreme drought, but is in a frenzy of building stadiums. Two giants are already under construction, several more announced.
You may recall Ethiopia as famine-ridden country that needed foreign aid late into the 20th century. But thinking of it today, you should consider its booming economy, large infrastructural advances and growing middle class. At the same time, ironically, Ethiopia is currently undergoing the worst drought in half a century and is indeed in need of foreign aid yet again.
But the country which gave arabica coffee beans to the world is stadium-focused at the moment. According to last year’s 5-year-plan of the government, sports facilities are to improve nationwide and stadium revamps are ongoing along with brand new projects. Earlier this year the new national stadium (60,000 capacity) went under construction, while just this week another large project officially began.
And before we present to you the latest addition to StadiumDB, one more note. In April authorities in Addis Ababa announced they plan to build four more stadium of 30,000 each, all within the capital city. What is particularly disturbing is that this lavish project will come with absolutely no feasibility study, because cost of such studies was deemed too high. Such approach by public officials was criticized domestically and rightly so…
The Harar giant
One of Ethiopia’s leading sports websites, Ethiosports.com, wrote that “this stadium will have a seating capacity of 56,000, but could easily accommodate as many as 100,000 standing fans”. While optimistic and somewhat careless approach, this expectation may come as a surprise due to the fact that Harar as a city has just over 150,000 inhabitants and not much of a metropolitan area.
That said, Harar is a city worth knowing, not only for the fact that the current population is twice that from 1990s. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the amazing Jegol city wall, while in recent year it proved a magnet for tourist seeking a much more extreme treat: feeding wild hyenas that venture into housing estates.
The city’s urban fabric is very dense and topography adds to the difficulty of locating a large stadium. Harar is based on hills almost 1,900 meters above sea level, which is why the new 56,000-capacity sports venue will be located outside current city limit. Current is the keyword, because south-east of the city a brand new high-end district is being created with wide avenues already awaiting the future stadium.
Construction officially began on the 19-hectare site on Monday with a cornerstone mounting ceremony. The international-standard stadium should be ready in 2021 due to its phased delivery, with first phase expected to enable operation by the end of 2016!
One more note for the time being: images of the proposed stadium that you’re seeing have been officially confirmed, but at the same time are still subject to change. Which may come as a relief, considering its arguable aesthetics.