Feature: China-aided science museum wins hearts of science-enthusiast Ethiopians

(Xinhua) 13:11, November 20, 2022

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Tewodros Eshetu was one of the first science and tech-enthusiast Ethiopians eagerly queued for hours to explore the country's recently inaugurated state-of-the-art science museum.

"In a country where science and technology-related facilities are virtually nonexistent, it's no surprise to be one of those Ethiopians, largely the youth, who were eagerly waiting in queue to see firsthand the science museum," Eshetu said, as he underscored the huge significance of the museum in promoting science and technology in Ethiopia.

The China-aided facility in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital is said to be Africa's first-ever museum solely dedicated to science.

Built on an area of 6.78 hectares of space hosting two major building complexes, the museum complex rests on a 15,000-meter square of land. The facility features several interactive exhibits that display solutions in healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, geographic information systems (GIS), service industries, data analytics, manufacturing, and robotics, among others.

"The first time I came here, I saw countless children waiting in line and eventually getting a glimpse of the new structure and what it offers with all its features," Eshetu told Xinhua.

"Nothing makes me more optimistic about Ethiopia's future in science than seeing those children wondering with awe in what seems to be their first-ever encounter with the latest scientific advancements," Eshetu added.

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous nation next to Nigeria, inaugurated the dome-shaped science museum last month towards envisioning the future of technology in Africa's digital transformation.

In just the first few weeks of its operations, the facility attracted hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, particularly the country's burgeoning youth population.

During the first one month period since its official opening on Oct. 4, Ethiopia's science museum had been visited by more than 700,000 science and tech-enthusiasts from Ethiopia and beyond, according to figures from the Ethiopian Artificial Intelligence Center.

The main floor contains a visitor's center, two large exhibition halls, an amphitheater and various offices and a cafeteria area. The scenic 360-rooftop houses a solar farm and a roof garden for relaxing outside.

The second part of the science museum is the Dome Theater which is a 3-dimensional cinema with 24-meters height and 450-meter square space and is able to accommodate up to 200 people at a time.

Manaye Ewnetu, a young communication specialist, is in particular fascinated by the facility's role in promoting science among Ethiopia's youth population, serving as a cornerstone in the country's quest for digital transformation.

"I am here for the first time, and I am amazed by the building and even its concept of technology and digital combination. I am really amazed," said Ewnetu.

"We are in a digital world, and the upcoming generation will be much more digital and everything is going to be digital. The upcoming generation should be familiar with the digital world, and this compound will inspire them and motivate them to come up with a new innovative idea," he said.

According to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the science museum serves as a platform where scientific innovations will be conceived and born to support the growth and development of Ethiopia.

"Today we find ourselves in a space designed to unleash imagination," Ahmed said while inaugurating the facility last month, noting that the museum offers both the young and old a place to inquire, explore, innovate and invent.

In addition to exhibiting the latest technologies, the facility is also expected to curate Ethiopia's rich indigenous knowledge, science, and art in tandem with the latest modern technological advancements.

The science museum, which is a major part of the China-aided Addis Ababa Riverside Green Development Project Phase II, also embraces green development equipped with a solar system that will generate the electricity required to operate the facility.

Courtesy of its pioneering features, the facility is also fast becoming the preferred continental avenue hosting high-level science and technology-themed gatherings.

During the past month, the facility hosted the Pan-African Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2022 as well as the eighth edition of the African Engineering Week and the sixth Africa Engineering Conference.


Speaking to Xinhua recently, Worku Gachena, director general of the Ethiopian Artificial Intelligence Center, said the science museum could be seen as the latest manifestation of the growing Sino-Ethiopia cooperation in the field.

The director general said China is not only helping Ethiopia acquire such a state-of-the-art museum but also empowering Ethiopian experts in artificial intelligence.

"The Chinese have been very supportive of artificial intelligence on capacity building in education and other sectors," Gachena said.

Gachena further underscored China's support in harnessing Africa's indigenous knowledge, as recalled a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China to work together on optical character recognition for African languages.

Eshetu argued that the state-of-the-art science museum serves as a positive impetus to promote Ethiopians to envisage achieving a Chinese-style development in the scientific arena.

"China is a global leader in science and technology with its fast technology adapting society. We really appreciate China for bringing its vast experience into our home," he said.

Ewnetu said Ethiopia lacked a facility that harnesses children's talent in technology and science, in which the recently inaugurated Chinese-built state-of-the-art facility serves as an "ideal example" in terms of nurturing the Ethiopian youth towards science and technology.

"The Chinese are our brothers and sisters. Many huge projects, not just in Addis Ababa but also outside, were built by our Chinese friends. This project is also the result of our great diplomatic relationship," Ewnetu said.

(Web editor: Cai Hairuo, Sheng Chuyi)


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