What you need to know:
- East Africa is home to 170 million people with a combined GDP of about $170 billion.
- It will be an easy and prestigious task to do this joint work. We look forward to a great moment when East Africa welcomes the whole continent to our home.
Barring a calamity, or political turbulence in the run-up to the 2027 General Election, Kenya will co-host the 36th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations with Uganda and Tanzania. The acceptance of the Pamoja Bid by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in Cairo on Wednesday sets the stage for a beautiful football show.
Some 600 elite players from 24 nations will descend on East Africa to battle it out for continental glory. It will be the first time in the region, which is revered for its athletics prowess.
It’s now our turn to showcase our side of the continent to the football world. It’s finally coming to us and the pride that comes with this is impossible to convey clearly. Our pride is swelled by the options of growth that comes with hosting Afcon.
Yet, there are many Kenyans still looking at this win with trepidation and sincere suspicion. We have managed to bid for the same tournament in the past, only to shame ourselves for lack of preparation in time.
In 1996 and 2018, we successfully bid to host Caf tournaments, only to let Africa down with poor preparations. Those were years of embarrassment that should never be repeated. This time round, we are in it with Uganda and Tanzania in the same boat and the scornful laughter of a neighbour at our expense shall injure the collective national ego severely.
It may look as if 2027 is still far off in the future horizon but the reality is that it is not. We must start preparations immediately. This time, it must be the curing of our battered self-esteem, the oiling and massaging of our unhappy souls, and the quenching of our conscience.
Woe unto whomsoever does shoddy work to shame us again. This is a new day and collective optimism must be the main force that drives our political class towards doing what must be done to raise our prestige.
“I have received information that Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have won the right to host Afcon 2027. I want to thank our Ministry of Sport and other stakeholders in that sector that our programme in the sports sector has begun to bear fruits,” President William Ruto said on Wednesday.
“We will now mobilise every resource, we will mobilise every person and every sector to ensure we deliver a world-class football event. We will make sure that whatever infrastructural facilities are required are made available to ensure we take Kenya to the next level of the sports industry,” he added.
We know for a fact that preparations to host tournaments of this magnitude are legion: Roads must be widened, sports infrastructure must be well-groomed and made to the required standards and all these in turn shall uplift our football standards that we have bewailed for far too long.
The hosting of Afcon will cost money and time but it will also leave us with desirable sports infrastructure that will serve us for many years to come. The All Africa Games in Nairobi in 1987 left us with the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which is still a gem.
As one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, Kenya has excellent airports, five-star hotels and entertainment spots that can host world-class footballers and thousands of travelling fans.
Afcon is an expensive affair. Cameroon spent $885 million on infrastructural development for the 2022 bonanza. The three governments will have to pump in billions to make it a success.
“The work begins now. We fought through to win and be on top of the pile but it is not to be celebrated, the work begins now. Everybody has to pull together and get a tournament going so we don’t lose it like we have done before. Let’s bring Pamoja home,” said Federation of Kenyan Football boss Nick Mwendwa.
Apart from stone and mortar issues, this tournament will help to bond the union between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
East Africa is home to 170 million people with a combined GDP of about $170 billion. It will be an easy and prestigious task to do this joint work. We look forward to a great moment when East Africa welcomes the whole continent to our home.