New U.S. Embassy Compound “Topping Out” Ceremony

Standing with the women in the middle 8th from the left is the MIRCO’s Head of Bilateral Affairs, Amb. Sabine Böhlke-Möller, MIRCO Executive Director, Amb. Penda Naanda, Chargé d’Affaires, Jess Long, and the Deputy Minister of MICRO, Hon. Jenelly Matundu.

Windhoek – Today, the U.S. Embassy held a “Topping Out” ceremony at the new U.S. Embassy site to celebrate the construction of the new building reaching its highest point.

The ceremony, hosted by the Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, Jess Long, and attended by the Deputy Minister of Internati onal Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Jenelly Matundu, acknowledged and congratulated the construction workers for “Topping Out” the U.S. Embassy ahead of schedule.  The new building is on schedule for completion in 2023.

In remarks delivered at the “Topping Out” ceremony, Chargé Long said, “This new U.S. Embassy shows the seriousness of the United States’ commitment to working with Namibia, and we have very important work in front of us.  This state-of-the-art Embassy will be the platform from which the United States and Namibia fight COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and future pandemics that might threaten the world.  This Embassy will partner with Namibia to make clean energy from solar and green hydrogen.  From this platform, Namibia and the United States will grow both economies together through new trade ties, like we’ve done with beef, beer, and charcoal.  We will fight international smuggling and trafficking, which threaten human rights, legitimate commerce, and wildlife.”

American construction firm BL Harbert is leading the project and employs 810 workers at the site, of which 761 are Namibian.  BL Harbert runs construction projects worldwide.  The firm employs more women on this Embassy construction project in Namibia, 59 women, than any of its other projects in the world.  “Diverse, international teams are not just possible, they are ideal.  This is how we get the best out of everyone to get the really big jobs done,” Chargé d’Affaires Jess Long told the construction team during the ceremony.

To celebrate the “Topping Out” of the new U.S. Embassy, the construction team built a tree of metal rebar then hung from the tree flags representing each of the 21 nationalities working at the site.  At the ceremony, U.S. Embassy Chargé Long and Deputy Minister Matundu attached United States and Namibian flags to the metal rebar tree, which was then hoisted by crane to the stand on the top of the building.

Project Manager Dave Bowling, who leads BL Harbert in Namibia, explained that topping out a building structure with a tree is a long-held tradition in the construction industry.

Chargé Long also noted the benefits that U.S. firms offer when they work internationally.  “American companies bring with them the world’s best skills, and their employees learn those skills and can use them for the rest of their lives.”  Last month, BL Harbert invited Namibian engineering students to the construction site to help them learn in a practical way so that they are more likely to succeed when they graduate.

The construction of the U.S. Embassy is expected to inject over US$17 million into the Namibian economy through salaries and contracts to local companies.

The State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO) leads the overall construction of this and all new U.S. Embassies built overseas.  OBO Project Director Jeff Grace, the Master of Ceremonies for the “Topping Out” ceremony, told the construction team, “Together, we’ve created something incredible behind us, and I couldn’t be prouder to be here today, and to top out this project with each and every one of you.”

Speaker: Chargé d’Affaires, Jess Long