AFCON 2024: The Charles Konan Banny stadium in Yamoussoukro

The new Yamoussoukro stadium, built for the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024), covers an area of 24.66 hectares and requires a major investment of 47 billion CFA Francs (71.6 million Euros).

Recently named Charles Konan Banny, after the former Ivory Coast Prime Minister (2005-2007), this stadium offers several modern amenities meeting international standards. It will host the matches of Senegal, the reigning African champion.

The imposing appearance of its architecture personifies the individual's name it bears and the city where it was built. Yamoussoukro, the capital of Ivory Coast since March 1983, is located 240 km north of Abidjan with a population of 340,334 inhabitants.

It is renowned for its large buildings, the most famous of which are the Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix Basilica (the largest basilica in the world) and the Félix Houphouët Boigny Foundation for the Search for Peace.

The other peculiarity of Yamoussoukro is its personalised urban plan which differentiates it from other cities in the country. The construction of this stadium for AFCON 2024 therefore meets the vision of the founding fathers to make “Yakro” (the popular nickname) an emblematic city.

Launched by the late former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly on October 19, 2018, work on the Charles Konan Banny stadium was completed on June 3, 2023, the date of its official inauguration. Delays in the execution of the specifications and shortcomings in certain compartments delayed its official launch.

This year's competition is officially named AFCON 2023 since it was initially scheduled to take place last year but was postponed until January-February 2024.

The Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro set to host AFCON 2023 games.
Credit: Icon Sport

With a capacity of 20,000 seats, this stadium is equipped with covered stands. It has a natural lawn, four training grounds, a massage room, six sectoring zones, seven tripods, five infirmaries, two changing rooms, a warm-up room, two elevators, 200 seats reserved for the football stand, a press room, an athletics track with synthetic surface, jumping and throwing areas, places reserved for people with reduced mobility, etc.

Multifunctional and multidisciplinary, this masterpiece meets international standards.

However, in 2021, a hiccup dampened the hopes of the ONS (National Sports Office) and the Ministry of Sports. The brand new Yamoussoukro stadium then experienced some problems with the pitch. It would be, to everyone's surprise, sandy, because it is composed of a cross of two varieties of grass: paspalum and cynodon. A mixture that needs sand for better stability and good aeration.

Thus, sand would appear on the lawn, making playing the game difficult and endangering the physical integrity of the athletes. There was also an issue with the doors of the media room which open onto the corridor of the two locker rooms. After a visit (early September 2021), CAF experts decided not to approve the stadium on September 20, 2021.

Yamoussoukro in 2021

Consequences: Ivory Coast 2022 World Cup qualifying matches were moved to Benin. An embarrassing situation for the host country of the next AFCON. Since then, however, everything seems to be back to normal. The lawn of the Charles Konan Banny stadium is now considered the second best after that of Bouaké, and the exits leading to the locker rooms have been closed. New exits facing outwards have been opened.

The construction of the building, which mobilised 700 to 800 local workers per day, is part of the firm desire of the Ivorian government to develop sports infrastructure in Ivory Coast.

This also makes it possible to develop sports for all, grassroots sports and high-level sports. Above all, it will promote the creation of wealth and opportunities for young people. “The organisation of AFCON 2024 in the city of the largest Basilica in the world will boost the economy, tourism, etc,” said a manager of the regional football league.

Located near the Lycée Scientifique (a school of excellence), the Yamoussoukro stadium has now been certified to meet with international standards by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

As a result, it hosted several CAF continental interclub competitions and the Elephants' AFCON 2024 qualifier against Zambia. Recently, it hosted the Burkina Faso women's team when they played South Africa in a women's AFCON qualifiers (Morocco 2024).

Places to visit in Yamoussoukro

Beyond AFCON 2023, the Charles Konan Banny stadium is one of the tourist sites in the city of Yamoussoukro. Others include:

Our Lady of Peace Basilica: This basilica is the largest Catholic church in the world, with a capacity of 18,000 people. It was built (with public funds) by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny as a tribute to peace and reconciliation.

The Presidential Palace: The presidential palace is a government building located in the centre of Yamoussoukro. It is surrounded by an artificial lake and lush gardens. It is possible to visit the presidential palace by appointment.

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for the Search for Peace: This foundation is a museum dedicated to the life and work of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It also houses a library and a research centre.

Cayman Lake, the INHP (the National Polytechnic Institute) are tourist sites that supporters, journalists and other visitors during the AFCON will have the opportunity to see on the sidelines of the meetings of Group C, the so-called “Group of death”, with Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea and Gambia.

The average temperature in the region is around 26°C. The relative humidity varies between 75 and 85% with drops to 40% during harmattan periods, and is between 80 and 85% during rainy periods.

Transport is mainly the business of municipal taxis and motorcycle taxis. For restaurants, the city is full of maquis (open-air restaurants) and bars for all kinds of food (African, European and others) and nightlife. Come January 15 when Senegal face Gambia, Yamoussoukro will become part of AFCON history.

Charles Konan Banny Stadium AFCON 2024 schedule

  • January 15, 2 pm: Senegal vs Gambia (Group C)
  • January 15, 5 pm: Cameroon vs Guinea (Group C)
  • January 19, 5 pm: Senegal vs Cameroon (Group C)
  • January 19, 8 pm: Guinea vs Gambia (Group C)
  • January 23, 5 pm: Guinea vs Senegal (Group C)
  • January 23, 8 pm: Angola vs Burkina Faso (Group D)
  • January 29, 5 pm: 1st Group C vs 3rd group A/B or F (round of 16 game 5)
  • February 3, 5 pm: (quarter-final game 3)
Avatar photo
Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.