Go beyond renovations

If executed well, the planned multibillion-shilling stadium project announced by the government on Tuesday could transform the sports industry that has witnessed haphazard development of facilities.

The government plans to put up a 50,000-seater stadium for football and rugby at Jamhuri Sports Complex, Nairobi, and renovate Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nyayo National and Kipchoge Keino stadiums.

While announcing the project, Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, said the Ministry of Defence would supervise the works, as his ministry provides the funds.

Entrusting the projects to the Kenya Defence Forces is not surprising, given that renovations at Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums in Nairobi, Kamariny in Elgeyo-Marakwet as well as Kipchoge Keino in Uasin Gishu County have stagnated.

The Sports Ministry spent billions of shillings in renovating MISC Kasarani to host the 2017 World Athletics Under-18 Championships, and the 2021 World Athletics Under-20 Championships. Strangely, Kenya’s bid to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships failed because Kasarani was deemed unsuitable to host the global championships.

Nyayo and Kipchoge Keino stadiums were closed for renovation in 2016. While work is still ongoing at Kipchoge Keino, a renovated Nyayo National Stadium was reopened in September 2020. Surprisingly, the Confederation of African Football declared Nyayo and Kasarani unsuitable for hosting matches.

More than Sh600 million was spent on Jamhuri Sports Complex but it remains unusable.

The planned rugby and football stadium at Jamhuri Sports Complex will have training venues for disciplines like football, rugby, basketball and hockey spread over 100 acres, and could offer Kenyan youngsters more opportunities to nurture their talents.

The project is part of Kenya’s bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

We urge the government to go beyond the beautiful architectural designs and to deliver a world-class sporting facility.