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The National Bamboo Construction Center (NBCC) celebrated National Bamboo Day last Saturday in a grand ceremony.

Contractors, consultants, investors, governmental institutions and international organizations participated in the celebration on June 15th, the first of its kind in the country, according to Denamo Addise, Head of the NBCC and the Appropriate Building Technology Chair at EiABC.
Denamo said the National Bamboo Day, held at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), aimed at not only showcasing what NBCC is doing to introduce bamboo and its uses in the country to both local and international organizations, but also receiving feedbacks and inputs, while actively introducing and connecting students with organizations and firms working in the industry.
NBCC has a student body of about 50 who are occasionally participating in the bamboo project as extracurricular activity. The Center aspires to introduce a regular curriculum, according to Denamo.
Yeayine Zenebe, a third year Architecture student at EiABC, told Capital that she and her friends usually attend lectures on Saturday.  “In addition to Saturday, we also participate once or twice a week depending on the schedule of our regular classes,” she said.
Yeayine, who believes the proper utilization of bamboo can contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth, stated that their knowledge and skills have greatly improved since they started actively participating at NBCC. 
She also believes that the government and other stakeholders should take note and focus on bamboo as the country has considerable bamboo resources.
Upon completion of her formal schooling at EiABC, Yeayine plans to get involved in the business and promote bamboo usage, where expenditures are quite low when compared to utilizing wood and metal.
NBCC was established at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC) in September 2012 to promote bamboo as a significant natural resource of the country and its various uses.
Bamboo in Ethiopia
Proper use of our bamboo resources can contribute to the economic growth of our country, as well as Ethiopia’s effort to promote a climate resilient green economy, Denamo said. “Bamboo grows fast and absorbs huge amounts of carbon,” he added.
Bamboo, an ancient woody grass found widely distributed in tropical, subtropical and mild temperate zones, is flourishing abundantly everywhere in Ethiopia, except in the Afar, Somali and Harar regions. With one million hectares of commercial, but untapped bamboo, Ethiopia currently has the largest bamboo resource in Africa amounting to 67 percent of Africa’s bamboo supply. Benishangul Gumuz Regional state has by far the largest share in the country.
People in Ethiopia have started understanding the beauty and durability of bamboo. Bamboo can be used for walls and ceilings, framing and flooring, and as shingles for roofs in addition to being used as food and for clothing. Nevertheless, its usage still remains insignificant, said Denamo.
“It is used as food in western Ethiopia,” he told Capital. “We are aspiring to use bamboo not only for making furniture, but also for construction,” he explained. On the premises of EiABC there are quite a few structures made of bamboo including stores, recreational and residential houses, etc. “Our center has also planned to construct a G+1 office building from bamboo,” he said. “A preliminary design competition is underway as part of the Bamboo Day celebration,” he stated.
“It is very difficult to use wood for construction these days because of cost. We need to look at other options,” said Denamo.
The real challenge today is the public’s perception of bamboo, according to him. “The public’s attitude towards bamboo is totally wrong. Bamboo is as strong as wood,” he said.  “If it has any weakness, it’s because of the starch it contains, and what it all requires is to know how to use it. Its strength is compared not with wood, but with metal,” he exclaimed.  “A regular curriculum should be designed to realize this huge potential so it can be promoted and properly utilized.”
There are three companies currently involved in the bamboo industry in the country including Bamboo Star Agroforestry in Asossa, Benishangul Gumuz Regional state, Adal Industrial Group PLC. in Sidama zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional state (SNNPR) and African Bamboo PLC in Nefas Silk Lafto District of Addis Ababa. The government wants to double the country’s bamboo coverage in five years, according to sources.