Eight years after being given the right to host Africa’s most prestigious tournament, and two and half years after it originally planned to do so, Cameroon is staging the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The competition, featuring 24 teams from all regions in Africa and sporting some of the best players in the game worldwide, such as Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mané, is being played in six stadiums across the country. Four of these were new – built specifically for the tournament.
The government spent over 520bn CFA ($885m) renovating and upgrading infrastructure – roads, hospitals, airports, hotels – and on the development of the sports facilities. The new, 60,000-capacity Olembé Stadium in the capital, Yaoundé, used for the opening match, cost in the region of $280m.
In Douala, the country’s economic capital and its second-largest city, sits a modern masterpiece when it comes to stadia, the 50,000-seater Japoma Stadium, which cost $240m. In Bafoussam and Limbé, two 20,000-capacity stadiums were built, while the one in Garoua, with 25,000 seats, has been renovated.
The government funded a brand-new five-star hotel in Douala, the Krystal Palace, where the official CAF delegation stayed. 80% of the hotels where the teams, journalists and tourists are staying are either new or have been renovated.
The government pulled out all the stops, and the spending on this AFCON was higher than on previous editions. The new and upgraded infrastructure will provide a long-term legacy while the global exposure of the tournament, which is being televised live to hundreds of countries, is expected to bring in substantial investments and tourism revenues.
Already, direct income from travelling supporters and tourists in 2022 is estimated at over $200m. Domestically, the tournament proved a very welcome relief from the lockdowns and political tensions.
It also helped create a sense of unity, by bringing together Cameroonians from different regions to celebrate a great event, which bodes well for the peace-making process now taking place. For Cameroon and its citizens, AFCON has been an outright winner, on and off the pitch.
This article is part of a special report supported by Stratline Communications and investiraucameroun.com. The editorial content was commissioned separately and produced independently of any third party.