Party time in East Africa as region gets 2027 AFCON hosting rights

Patrice Motsepe, president of the African Confederation of Football (CAF), announces the host countries for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations during a ceremony held in Cairo on September 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Khaled Desouki | AFP

What you need to know:

  • EA Pamoja Bid wins hosting rights of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations, fending off competition from Botswana, Egypt and late entrants Senegal. Algeria withdrew on Tuesday. This will be the first time ever the tournament is being held in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania

In Kampala

Eddy Grant’s Dance Party hit from the British singer’s 1986 Born Tuff album feels just about right for East Africa - right now!

It is party time as endorsed by Caf president Patrice Motsepe in Cairo, Egypt yesterday as he announced that the Pamoja Bid of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania had won hosting rights of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.

Big dreams

"The future of African football has never been brighter,” enthused Motsepe, in company of his executive he had just come to the decision, “In the near future,” he added, rather excitedly, “an African nation will win the World Cup."

Fufa president Moses Magogo, who was among the Uganda, Kenya and Tanzanian delegation at the event, quipped in on X, formerly Twitter.

“Hello Uganda, hello East Africa,” he teased, “Let's get ready to welcome Africa to our  beautiful part of Africa.”

As widely expected, Morocco won the rights to host the 2025 edition of the Cup of Nations after Nigeria and Algeria withdrew their bids.

The East African nations, under their themed Pamoja (together) Bid, fended off competition from Egypt, late entries Senegal and Botswana.

Algeria, who were in the running for both the 2025 and 2027 editions, withdrew a day before the official announcement.

While Egypt cannot be questioned in terms of infrastructure, their hosting of Afcon 2019 reduced their chances, and Senegal - who also have better facilities than any of the three East African countries, were late entries.

Strength in unity for EA

Caf boss Motsepe said the decision to award the rights to Pamoja Bid was taken with focus on "African unity, development and growth."

"The three nations came together because our standards and requirements are very high," he elaborated.

"Sometimes it requires hundreds of millions - sometimes billions - in infrastructure. It makes me proud when football brings countries together. Afcon 2027 is going to be a huge success."

The South African, Mostepe, applauded the “commitment and drive made by the three presidents of the countries,” which showed “how eager the region is to host this even...”

President Museveni of Uganda, Kenya’s William Ruto and Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan have all been positive to the efforts of hosting Afcon 2027 so far.

The latest news means that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have automatically qualified for the 2027 edition as the hosts, barring any unfortunate late eventualities.

Should they successfully host the event in 2027, it will be the first time a country from Cecafa is hosting Afcon since Ethiopia in 1976.

Magogo slides into ecstasy

As for Magogo, the lead figure of the three football federations in this bid, he could not help himself in subsequent social media broadcasts.

“Taking Uganda to Afcon (Gabon) after 39 was sweet,” he said, “but bringing Afcon to Uganda is more than an orgasm.”

State Minister for Sports Peter Ogwang, who was also in Egypt for the good news, declared “our time had come!”

Kenya ready to get to work

For Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa, it’s time to get to work.

“The work begins now, winning the bid is the first step,” he said, “We fought through to win and be on top of the pile but it is not to be celebrated the work just begins now.

“Everybody has to pull together and get a tournament going so we don't lose like we have done before. Let's bring Pamoja home."

Kenya is infamously remembered for winning hosting rights for Afcon 1996 and Chan 2018 but later had them withdrawn because of unreadiness.

What is in Uganda's bid?

In the Pamoja Bid, Uganda presented Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, Denver Godwin (Garuga), St. Mary’s Kitende and Nakivubo as the stadium to host matches.

Of the above, only St Mary’s - which will also need a huge touch-up - is currently playable, while Namboole is under renovation.

Little-known Denver Godwin in Garuga and Nakivubo, both included in Uganda’s bid, are also still under construction.

It is, however, not clear how Uganda and Caf will go about stadiums with artificial turf like St Mary’s Kitende and Nakivubo as Afcon has always been played on natural grass.

Two venues in Lira (Akii Bua) and Hoima are also in the bid as stadiums to be newly constructed.

Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) and Muteesa II Stadium, Wankulukuku are the proposed training grounds.

The national referral hospital, Mulago, will be in charge of everything medical, while Sheraton and Kampala Serena Hotels will provide accommodation to teams.
Entebbe International Airport and Kabalega Airport in Hoima are the air points of call.

Inside Kenya, Tanzania bids

On their part, Kenya are said to have fronted improvements on Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani and Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, with the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, just over 300 kms from the capital, the third option.

In Tanzania, the only country of the three currently with a Caf-certified venue, the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium is ready for business. Maybe just a touch up here and there but it meets the standards.

Chamazi Complex - home to Azam FC, the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza and some venues in Dodoma, Arusha and Zanzibar are the other options Tanzania will look to refurbish to meet Caf standards.

Inside Uganda's bid document

Stadiums – Mandela National Stadium, Denver Godwin Stadium (Garuga), St. Mary’s Stadium and Nakivubo Stadium

Proposed new stadiums – Akii Bua and Hoima

Training Grounds – Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) and Muteesa II Stadium, Wankulukuku

Hospitals – Mulago

Hotels – Sheraton and Kampala Serena

Airports – Entebbe International Airport, Kabalega Airport - Hoima