Cameroon And The Many Challenges of the 2019 African Nations Cup

In a BBC report dated the 20th of September 2014, Cameroon was named as the future host of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations by an executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), sitting in Addis Ababa, the political capital of Ethiopia. This news was received by many especially Cameroonians at home with a lot of mixed feelings. Some were happy that the country was going to host this very important event again, after having hosted the event in 1972. Others were saddened by this announcement because at the moment the country cannot boast of adequate infrastructure to host an event of such magnitude. There are no stadia of international standards. There are equally no top quality hotels and worst of all shopping malls to accommodate visitors to this important event. Why should a country wait for such an event before rushing to put in place infrastructure like stadia? How efficient will the slated projects be realized? Will the state involve the private sector and other development partners in the realization of such projects? Is the country secure enough to host such an event especially with the ongoing Boko Haram attacks in the North and ex Seleka rebel attacks in the East?
There is no gainsaying that the state of Cameroon has not done enough in the realization of development and infrastructural projects. A report from a local paper purports that roads projected to be tarred in 2014 remain untarred. Money allocated for such projects are underutilized and returned back to the Public Treasury while corrupt officials embezzle some. This is indeed astonishing for a country considered as underdeveloped.
Inspectors from CAF had called upon the government to ensure that the stadia in the country meet international standards. This suggestion was not taken seriously until the announcement that the country is to host the African Nations cup. Recently the Minister of Habitat and Urban Development, visited the economic capital Douala to inspect ongoing work on the new stadium which is to be constructed at Yassa. According to a report on the 7.30 pm news of the 24 of November 2014 on Cameroon’s Radio and Television (CRTV) he was amazed that land which was supposed to be allocated for the construction of this stadium was not yet made available.
An event such as the African Nations cup will definitely not only bring in investors but tourists. Investors for instance will be looking for business opportunities while tourists will be looking forward to visit places like shopping malls and game reserves. It is indeed an aberration that the country cannot even boast of one single shopping mall. Existing game reserves have not been well managed. Most of the officials called upon to manage few public venues like game reserves have done a bad job. Funds destined to manage these public places have been mismanaged. Shopping malls of international standards need to be constructed and game reserves preserved. The government needs to involve the private sector and development partners in some of these projects.
There is thus need for the state to be serious about development and infrastructural projects. There is no need to wait for major events like the African Nations cup before rushing over projects.  The truth is that a lot of these projects in preparation for the African Nations cup will be poorly executed especially as corruption remains an issue in the execution of public contracts.
Corruption and the mismanagement of public funds remain endemic in the country. Despite the existence of several anti-corruption programmes in the country, the country still ranks – by Transparency International – as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It is important for the state to reduce corruption in the wake of such an important event as the African Nations cup.
The security situation in the country has become very alarming especially with the ongoing attacks.  For some time now the country has been negligent with securing its borders. The state became serious about securing its borders with attacks in the North by Boko Haram and in the East by ex-Seleka rebels. In a free society the role of government is to ensure that it furnishes security for its citizens. But what we see in Africa is that most governments involve themselves in operations like business and forget to take security seriously. The state thus has to make sure that the security situation is commendable. It would be indeed catastrophic for visitors to get killed or kidnapped in the country during such an important event such as the African Nations cup.
Chofor Che wrote in from Cameroon

Cameroon does not appear ready to host Africa again