Health, cakes and condoms at the AU summit

2015-01-28 08:56

Carien du Plessis looks at six things you might not have known about the 24th African Union summit:

1. Ebola is big at this year’s AU summit. Each delegate entering the AU headquarters is having their temperature taken every time they step into the building. Tests were also done on passengers entering Addis Ababa at the airport. There are also banners inside the building spreading awareness.

2. High-ranking delegates get to attend AU-hosted lunches on summit days, while ordinary delegates have to buy lunch in tents about 500 metres from the headquarters. It ranges from “international” or “African” buffets for 150 birr (about R85 before taxes), to Ethiopian injera and sauces for 85 birr (about R50), with traditionally-brewed Ethiopian coffee for 10 birr (almost R6). The less adventurous can have paninis for 85 birr.

3. During tea breaks after meetings, coffee, tea (ginger, mint and regular) and juices are served, as well as slices of rolls with cheese and tomato or cold meat on them. Hot finger foods like spring rolls, small pies and samoosas are also served, while there are creamy rectangles of cake for those with a sweet tooth.

4. Addis Ababa’s water can upset foreign tummies, but finding a bottle of water inside the AU headquarters can be a mission, so most people either go thirsty or bring their own. Once the heads of state arrive for the assembly (Friday and Saturday), bottled water is supplied.

5. Ethiopian condoms branded “sensation” and manufactured in Thailand were distributed in toilets in the headquarters this week. “Love” variety condoms came rose-flavoured and there were also coffee-flavoured rubbers.

6. Ethiopia has one mobile phone provider – Ethio Telecom – with a network that’s about as reliable as Eskom. They actually charge for their SIM cards: 2G cards go for 30 birr (R17) and 3G go for twice the price. In both cases you get 15 birr (R8.50) airtime, but the networks might take a day or two to actually work. (At the time of writing there was, however, no load shedding in Addis Ababa.)

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