The host of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN 2016), Rwanda, said Wednesday it is ready ahead of the tournament’s start this weekend.

download (12)“We are fully ready to host this high-level competition,” said Vincent Nzamwita, president of the Rwanda Football Federation, which hosts the tournament from January 16 to February 7, adding it is “a great honour”.

The tournament, organised by the African Football Confederation (CAF), is held every two years. It is reserved for players who play their football in national leagues and alternates with the higher profile Africa Cup of Nations tournament for which players based overseas are also eligible.

Ivory Coast, Sudan and South Africa have played host in previous tournaments since 2009.

Preparations for the event have been widely reported by the local press and the Rwandan government announced a visa exemption for nationals of competing countries in order to attract fans.

Major renovations were carried out in Kigali, the capital, Huye and Rubavu where games will be played.

“Everything had to be rebuilt,” said Nzamwita, including the pitches, changing rooms and stands.

According to the New Times newspaper, the Rwandan government has spent 16 billion Rwandan francs ($21.4 million) on infrastructure and organisational costs for CHAN 2016, the fourth edition of the competition since 2009.

The 16 competing nations are divided into four groups: Group A is composed of Gabon, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Rwanda; Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia make up Group B; Group C contains Guinea, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia and Group D is made up of Mali, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the opening match on Saturday, Rwanda’s Amavubi, meaning “Wasps” in the Kinyarwanda language, play the Ivory Coast’s Elephan