angola in afcon poser

LUANDA - Angola's shortage of accommodation may overshadow the Africa Cup of Nations next year despite the country's $1 billion (R9,5billion) efforts to build stadiums, airports and hotels, an official said this week.

LUANDA - Angola's shortage of accommodation may overshadow the Africa Cup of Nations next year despite the country's $1 billion (R9,5billion) efforts to build stadiums, airports and hotels, an official said this week.

"We have secured enough hotels for tournament officials and teams, but the problem will be to find rooms for the tourists that will come to our country," said Angola's Deputy Sports Minister Albino da Conceicao.

About 100 000 tourists are expected to come to oil-rich Angola during the January 10-31 event but the few existing hotels are already booked months in advance and 11 new hotels being built will only accommodate a few thousand more.

One solution, Da Conceicao said, will be to appeal to the residents of the four host cities - Luanda, Benguela, Cabinda and Lubango - to help accommodate tourists during the tournament. He did not provide details.

Already, tourists lucky enough to find a room in Luanda are often hit with hotel bills of more than $400 (R3800) for a one-night stay.

The capital is considered to be the world's most expensive city for expatriates, according to human resources firm ECA.

Oil-rich Angola is recovering from a 27-year civil war that destroyed most of its infrastructure. Since the end of the war in 2002, the country has been growing in double-digits on the back of record oil and diamond exports. This has enabled the former Portuguese colony to rebuild roads, bridges and ailing communications at breakneck speed.

Officials have said in the past they hope the eagerly anticipated tournament will help kick-start the tourism industry in a country blessed by a warm climate and long sandy beaches.

Tourism Minister Pedro Mutindi said despite problems with accommodation, he was confident Angola would be able to host a successful tournament.

"We are faced with the biggest tourism event in the 33 years since our independence and that alone makes the nation of Angola proud," he said in a speech to tourism operators in Luanda.

"Let us unite, not to recover time that was lost, because this is impossible, but to work in order not to waste any more time." - Reuters

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