In the backdrop of an expected beauty statement of the continents biggest sporting event, Gabon’s hosting of this year’s AFCON has been met with some protests.
While a good number of Gabonese citizens are questioning the economic justification in hosting the event and its impact locally, a section believe it is worth the expenditure.
“The AFCON is not bad, but for us Gabonese we are just not ready to organize it. We have problems. Like for instance look at the accommodation houses next to the Angondjè stadium, we have homeless people today. We must first deal with the problems of Gabonese citizens,” a Gabonese resident told Africanews.
For others, the AFCON is about the unique opportunity to make history, rather than focusing on the country’s political troubles.
“I am against the idea of boycotting AFCON, because the event brings together people. It unites us as people. It is really important for us to stay united through the games. So to me it’s really very important, we cannot just brush the AFCON aside,“another one said.
Gabon is a major oil producer but World Bank data shows that a third of its population of over 1.8 million people live in poverty. The country depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of its GDP and 80% of the export.