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Sporting events key to promoting peace in Africa, says Gabon Sports Minister

Gabon Sports Minister Franck Nguema has underlined the importance of staging major sporting events for the growth of Africa and to promote “peace” in the continent.

Nguema spoke during a session called “Sport and Priority Africa” in the Multistakeholder Forum staged before the start of the seventh International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education here.

During the panel discussion, Nguema outlined the number of local, national and international sporting events the Central African country was hosting.

Among those include the Marathon du Gabon as well as the Run in Masuku – 10km de Franceville and the 10km Port Gentil which are all high-level World Athletics road races.

Nguema said it was Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s ambition to turn it into a “sport-minded country” in a bid to “make the most of the transformative ability of sport”.

“For young Gabonese, they get to see the world’s greatest and there are economic benefits,” said Nguema on holding major sporting events.

“If you are going to host such events, you need to set up private partnerships.

The Marathon du Gabon is one of the biggest international sporting events staged in the Central African nation ©Getty Images
The Marathon du Gabon is one of the biggest international sporting events staged in the Central African nation ©Getty Images

“The state can contribute with logistics… but above and beyond it is the major firms that make them a success.

“There are nationwide benefits as we are seeing that it promotes sport.

“It can promote peace in Africa.”

The National Anti Doping Organisation (NADO) of Gabon has recently been declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The ruling means that athletes from Gabon will not be permitted to compete under their own national flag or anthem until the NADO is granted the all clear.

Mohsen Abdel Fattah, director general of African Sports and Creative Institute, co-authored a book, called “Economics of Sport in Africa: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities”.

Speaking on the panel, Abdel Fattah said he found that sport contributed just 0.5 per cent of national growth in Africa which is below the global average.

But Abdel Fattah said he was confident the continent can “bridge the gap” with more events starting to come to Africa, including the 2026 Summer Youth Olympics which is set to be held in Dakar in Senegal.

“There is a lot of interest globally about what is happening in Africa,” said Abdel Fattah.

“I think we can use that momentum.”

The “Sport and Priority Africa” panel discussion was held on the first day of multistakeholder forums at Mineps VII in Baku ©Baku 2023

Francois Alla, secretary general of the National Sports Council for the Ivory Coast, Andrea Dirabou, the captain of the Ivory Coast women’s rugby union team, and Decius Chipande, head coordinator for Cameroon on the African Union Sports Council also spoke on the panel.

“There are a lot of lessons that have been learned over time that put Africa with sufficient experience to be elite in this field of sport,” said Chipande.

“However, it is also important to note that the field of sport for developed gained a route on the continent as a result of a very long history of repression and failing organisation and economic development agenda and failures locally to address social and economic challenges.

“Therefore, if we are to understand Africa’s readiness to handle sport with a prosperous future, we should understand the desperate resilience to address serious issues on the continent.”

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