Along a street on the road leading to Medhanialem Church, a tent was put up for an event, partly diverting traffic from the two-way road. It has become customary to throw a launching party during the inauguration of properties, where pole tents are set up to accommodate guests. It is almost unheard of on main roads, but a glimpse at the guest list and little should be surprising about it. The occasion was the opening of the Kena Hotel on Cameroon Street, which was attended by Shimelis Abdisa (right), president of the Oromia Regional Street, Mayor Adanech Abiebie (centre), and Desta Ledamo, president of the Sidama Regional State, pictured greeting traditional and cultural leaders. Kena - “gift” in Afan Oromo - is the latest addition to downtown Addis Abeba, a walking distance from the Bole International Airport.

Branding itself a four-star property and standing at around a dozen stories, it was built for 450 million Br by Beha Construction Plc. Tadesse Edema, founder of Barkume Coffee Export Plc., owns the property that boasts the usual facilities of a hotel, including a gym, conference halls and club. Despite the upbeat nature of the ceremony, the journey has not been a cakewalk. Cost escalation, impacts of the pandemic, shortage of construction inputs and logistics disruptions delayed completion to six years. The hospitality industry has had better years than the last three. COVID-19 dealt a major blow to hotels until restrictions started easing the previous year. Political instability, war and crackdowns on hotel establishments in Addis Abeba exasperated the situation. Hoteliers only began to see the light at the beginning of this year with a government campaign trying to get the diaspora to visit Ethiopia for Gena (Christmas) festivities when occupancy rates showed signs of life. Promoters of Kena would like to see the hospitality industry’s heart continue to beat.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 04,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1153]

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