x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The power arrived just before kick-off

Betty Koumba did not have electricity in her home in Libreville - at least not until the World Cup.

LIBREVILLE, GABON // Betty Koumba did not have electricity in her home in Libreville - at least not until the World Cup. Koumba was desperate to watch the games in her new house, which had yet to receive electricity nine months after she moved in. But the Gabonese civil servant finally secured a US$3,000 (Dh11,000) bank loan two days before last week's opening ceremony to buy her connection.

Getting power in this West African nation is not as easy as simply calling up the electric company. The nearest power line was a mile away, and Koumba was told she would have to buy the cables to link into it. Her brother pitched in with another US$3,000. Neighbourhood youths swarmed in to help connect the line, slinging it across makeshift power poles made of scrap wood. And just a few hours before the opening match Koumba's 20-inch television - formerly nothing more than a piece of living room furniture - roared to life.

"We're celebrating two events: the World Cup and the arrival of electricity in our house," said her brother, Armand, who lives in the same powerless part of Gabon's capital. Koumba's home has since become so packed that she had to move the television on to her terrace outside to accommodate all the visitors. Just one rule: they must bring their own chair, because Koumba does not have enough for all.

* AP