Region’s sporting fiesta begins in 2010

Angola will host the 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations finals in 2010 while South Africa is already in high preparation gear to host the FIFA World Cup finals in the same year.

Zambia is the 2011 host of the All-Africa Games, a multi-disciplinary event, and plans to construct modern stadiums within the next four years.

The executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), at its meeting in Cairo on 4 September, selected Angola as the host nation for the African soccer showcase.

Angola beat four other countries to raise morale in sports followers within the 14-member Southern African Development Community.

The south-west African country was selected ahead of Libya, Gabon/Equatorial Guinea (joint bid) and Nigeria who were in the contest for the privilege to stage the event.

The African Cup of Nations has become a major international sporting event in Africa with a high level of competition since the first edition that was hosted by Sudan in 1957.

CAF premised its decision to select Angola on proper organisation and clear plans for construction and renovation of infrastructure such as stadiums, hotels, airports, transport and health facilities, among others.

Other elements that were considered included the environment for media coverage, which caters for audio-visual elements and marketing operations.

Angola becomes the second southern African country to host the African Cup of Nations finals after South Africa, which staged the event in 1996 and went on to win the tournament.

The 2012 edition of will be jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea while Libya will host the event in 2014.

Nigeria has been designated as a substitute host and will take the place of any country that fails to meet the standards required to host the finals. The West African country has already hosted the finals twice, firstly in 1980 and then in 2000 when it co-hosted with Ghana.

The Angolan Football Federation plans to invest US$140 million in the construction of four new stadiums ahead of 2010.

The stadiums are to be built in the capital Luanda, Cabinda, Benguela and Huila provinces while more funds would be released for the construction of hotels, improving communication standards and health facilities.

Angola is transiting from a 27-year-long civil war, which ended after the killing of UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in 2002. The end to the conflict has led to massive reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure, sparking an economic boom.

Buoyed by economic vibrancy, the Angolan national soccer team made a maiden appearance at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany.

Angolan President Jos’ Eduardo dos Santos has expressed satisfaction with CAF’s decision to select his country as the host for the 2010 finals. He said the choice translates to the prestige that the country has been seeking to attain following various successes in many fields boosted by economic improvements.

In 2005, Angola achieved a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 15.6 percent, the highest in southern Africa. This came on the back of improved oil production following the restoration of peace after decades of war.

The economy is projected to grow further, reaching 20.6 percent by year-end.

The non-oil sector has also registered steady growth mainly in the agricultural field due to the extensive de-mining programme and the introduction of irrigation schemes.

Angola has also embarked on a massive programme of social reintegration of persons that were displaced by the civil war, confirming the restoration of permanent peace and stability. ‘

September 2006
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