It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, but usually we think “wars and exploitation” when thinking of it. Developments like this one may change the way we see Congo.
Brazzaville on one side, Kinshasa on the other. Congo on one, Democratic Republic of Congo on the other. 11 million people live directly in the areas shown below, on NASA's satellite photo we couldn't resist to show, if only for the place's beauty. All that divides the two cities is the magnificent Congo River, 1km wide in its most narrow point. One of Africa’s most impressive sports complexes is growing close to its northern bank, just outside of Brazzaville.
New national sports complex for Congo is being built roughly 20km from central Brazzaville, in the north-eastern outskirt of Kintélé, replacing former farmlands. Covering over 80 hectares, the precinct will include large main stadium, indoor event hall (10,140 capacity), natatorium (2,028 seats) and secondary venues like two training stadiums, media pavilions, etc. The whole site, nicknamed Complexe sportif de Kintélé, is created for the 2015 All-African Games (Sept 04-19).
Main stadium can hold up to 60,055 people on three continuous tiers around the field and running track. The plan foresees installation of 58,000 regular seats in national colours, 1,800 VIP-standard seats and 100 top-level for the presidential box.
The athlete and office infrastructure will be housed in the massive concrete main structure, which will be then topped by 8,000-ton steel roof. Covered with aluminum-magnesium “golden” sheets, the roof will reach peak at 50.7m.
The design was jointly developed by Chinese and Australian architects, while all of the complex is estimated to cost XAF 221 billion ($377m / €337m in mid-2015). Financing comes mostly from the Chinese government, who also provided design and contractors. All managing staff and high-rank construction workers (1,500) are Chinese, while only the lowest workers were recruited among locals (3,000).
Groundbreaking took place in April 2013 and delivering this vast complex was to take 24 months. Eventually the deadline was passed, but only just. Right now seats are being installed, field of play is ready, roof works should end any day and by June the main stadium will be ready.
This still means an impressive pace, although there’s reportedly a price to pay. Numerous cases of working condition infringements were reported, particularly regarding the local workforce. This is sadly one of more common negative issues associated with the Chinese “stadium diplomacy”.