The Nabemba Tower, also known as Elf Tower, is an office skyscraper in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. At 106 metres and 30 floors it is the tallest building in the Republic of the Congo. It is named after Mont Nabemba, the highest mountain in the country. The tower was built with borrowed funds from the French oil company Elf Aquitaine.
The tower was designed by Jean Marie Legrand during the government's five-year plan and was built between 1983 and 1986. Various ministries and charities' offices are housed in the tower, such as the African Self-help Development Initiative, the New Partnership for African Development, and UNESCO. The tower is located directly on the Congo River in the south of the city, across from Kinshasa.
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The shape of the Nabemba Tower is slender, the sides towards the middle and bent inwards so it makes a concave cylinder. The tower is based on a rectangular pedestal that forms the main core of the shape. The facade consists of vertical lines with glass and light concrete, which reinforces its narrow shape. The floor plan, comprising the 6th to 27th floor, makes three concretic circles: in the middle there are elevators and technical facilities, then there are circular corridors, and finally these two rings are surrounded by an outer ring of offices, which are divided into segments by movable walls. The windows are sealed, but an air-conditioning system pumps cold air through a cooling system and regulates the temperature in the building. Three 430-kVA generators supply the building during the constant power outages in the city.
Nabemba Tower was severely damaged in 1997 during the Republic of the Congo Civil War. When President Sassou Nguesso returned to power, however, the building was rebuilt at the exorbitant cost of £6,000,000. This was more than the entire initial construction cost. Elf Aquitaine funded work on the building, which was assigned to a start-up company in Congo led by two French brothers without any qualifications in company management, nor in the techniques of building construction, civil engineering, or even architectural expertise.
Each year, the maintenance alone of the tower costs the equivalent of £3,000,000, a significant cost for what is still a very poor country. The local architect Norbert Mbila describes Nabemba Tower as "a symbolic building, built purely for prestige. It is neither necessary nor useful, as it swallows up a lot in maintenance costs."