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"Afcon 2023: Ivory Coast's Journey from Civil War to $1bn Tournament Host"
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Ivory Coast’s Hosting of AFCON 2023: A Boon or Burden for Economic Rebound?

The Ivorian government sees the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as a pivotal moment in the country’s recovery from the civil war that ended in 2011. With a significant investment of at least $1 billion, including the construction of four new stadiums and renovation of two others, Ivory Coast aims to showcase its progress on the global stage. The tournament will take place in five cities: Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro, and the capital, Yamoussoukro.

This ambitious infrastructure project has been partly funded by a $3.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), prompting some concerns about the country’s financial stability. Despite being ranked 138th out of 190 nations in terms of wealth by the IMF, Ivory Coast has experienced an impressive average annual growth of 8% since President Alassane Ouattara took office.

However, some economists, like Prao Yao Seraphin, caution that the country must ensure that these investments yield long-term benefits and do not become financial burdens. The term “white elephants,” referring to costly infrastructure projects with limited utility, has been used to describe such concerns.

Francois Amichia, head of the 2023 Nations Cup organizing committee, emphasizes that the primary goal of hosting the tournament was not financial profit but to revitalize the country’s sports infrastructure. The investment includes the construction of new stadiums, refurbishment of existing ones, and upgrades to transportation and healthcare facilities.

Despite the financial implications, Ivory Coast sees the tournament as an opportunity to showcase its progress and reposition itself on the global stage. With improved infrastructure and a renewed focus on sports, the country hopes to signal its emergence as a dynamic and forward-looking nation.

Piers Potter

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