Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gabon hosts Africa Cup of Nations 2017

Africa Cup of Nations 2017
So, who would have thought it. Gabon will host the African continent's biggest tournament for the second time in 5 years (Yes, that's right they also hosted in 2012, when they shared hosting with Equatorial Guinea).

The bidding process for these things started back in 2010 when Botswana, Cameroon, DR Congo, Guinea, Morocco, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe first expressed an interest. In the end only three countries put in bids - DR Congo, Morocco and South Africa. 2017 was awarded to South Africa.

Now just to complicate things further in 2011, due to the Libyan Civil War, South Africa agreed to host the 2013 competition, which was due to be held in Libya that year, with Libya hosting in 2017.

Now unfortunately the Libyan Civil War has lasted longer than we hoped and in 2014 Libya was withdrawn as the venue. There was interest from Ethiopia, Mali, Tanzania and Kenya discussed a joint bid with Rwanda and Uganda. In the end seven countries submitted bids: Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya (alone), Sudan and Zimbabwe.

In April 2015 Gabon were named as hosts.

So when bidding began in 2010 there were 53 African countries and 20 of them have expressed an interest in hosting this tournament. There are of course now 54 African countries with South Sudan being the newest formed in July 2011.

This tournament was originally going to be held in South Africa, then Libya and now Gabon - although CAF  (Confederation of African Football) were forced to issue a statement on 25 November 2016 denying the fact that the venue was to be changed again.

So, with Gabon having hosted in 2012 the infrastructure will be there to hold another successful Championship.

The first obstacle to overcome will be to get into the country - for which you need a visa. To make this easy Gabon announced the introduction of an electronic visa from January 2015. However to complete the visa you need details of your accommodation and of a contact in Gabon.

So I duly went out and bought the only guide book there is on Gabon. I went through the whole book and took note of all the email addresses and sent an email introducing myself and that I was looking for help with my trip.

Gabon hosts Africa Cup of Nations 2017.
Yes, those are the replies I got above...over 30 of them. You might think this was strange. Well let me tell you a little more. Last August there was a Presidential election where incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba ran for re-election against the former Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Ping.

The election is decided in a single round by plurality that is, the person with the most votes wins regardless of whether they have secured an overall majority.

On the day after the elections Ping (whose supporters had collected results showing him winning by 59% to 38%) said that "he was waiting for the outgoing president to congratulate me."

The result were delayed a day and Ali Bongo was announced the winner with 49.80% against Jean Ping's 48.2%.

Results from Haut-Ogooue, Bongo's heartland showed that he had secured 95.5% of the votes in a 99.9% turnout.

As you can imagine chaos ensued. As a result a media blackout was introduced. I believe that may be the cause for my returned emails.

Now to get this visa a contact in Gabon would be really useful. But if I haven't got that then the other way would be to book a hotel that could help. I was told that the Le Méridien Rendama would help with visas, but I decided against this even though there was a 20% price reduction as I felt £215 a night was a bit much.

So how is everyone else getting on with their visa applications: Jonathon WilsonOsasu Obayiuwana, Nick Ames.

So is it safe now  in Gabon, well with no news coming out of the country it is hard to say. But remember CAF issued their statement on November 25th...so everything must be OK. Mustn't it.
How smoothly did the last African Cup of Nations go in Equatorial Guinea in 2015?
Ok so what about travelling round the country. Four venues are being used Libreville, the capital, along with Port Gentil, Franceville and Oyem.

So I thought I would use Google maps to get around the country.

So to travel the 733km from Libreville to Franceville you can fly one way for £140 for the one hour 25 minute flight. You could catch the train for the 12 hour journey only £41. Or you could go by road, estimated time 15 hours.

Port-Gentil, Gabon.


Franceville to Oyem is 989km by road and takes 15 hours. There are no direct planes.
Oyem to Port Gentil. Sorry we could not calculate driving directions. That might be because there are no roads leading into Port Gentil (see under getting Around).

Port Gentil to Libreville. Sorry I forgot there are no roads. However you could fly, or even catch a boat. Would you catch a boat for a four hour trip in Gabon?

If you want to fly don't forget the Foreign Office warning (under Air Travel).

So if all of this information is right, what is the last way that you would want to enter the country?

Match tickets

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