The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) board member Rogers Byamukama predicts that the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) will be the most lucrative ever.
Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, the neighboring countries of East Africa, will co-host the tournament for the first time ever three nations delivering the continental showcase.
“There’s a minimum guarantee of nine completely sold-out home games – a record that has never been achieved before since a single host can only guarantee three home games,” Byamukama stated.
“I can declare with confidence that the 2027 tournament will be the most commercially viable event for the Confederation of African Football (CAF).”
CAF will deal with the host countries collectively rather than separately, and the three countries will shortly be expected to announce the composition of their joint organizing committee.
The three hosts want to promote a common spirit of “Pamoja,” which means togetherness or unity. However, a tournament that takes place in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya presents certain difficulties.
For the first time since their bid was approved, stakeholders from all three nations convened in Kenya this week, and the conversation mostly focused on infrastructure and expected challenges.
“It’s no secret that infrastructure has been one of the biggest challenges in this region,” Byamukana stated.
“However, we currently have enough stadiums available to host the tournament even as things stand. It is easier to renovate these facilities than to start from scratch.”
The three governments’ pledge to provide funding for the building of new stadiums is extremely significant. The principal legacy of [hosting] the Afcon should be sports infrastructure.
Byamukana anticipates that the 2027 Nations Cup will benefit from the combined population of the host countries more than 162 million people as well as the current transportation infrastructure.
“Our population is probably next to Nigeria, making it a very good Afcon market,” he stated.
“Our seamless road transportation and unity are what make our borders beautiful. Fans can afford to watch a game in Nairobi, spend the night in Kampala for another match, and then take another bus to Dar es Salaam.”
“This is such a powerful and highly marketable fan experience.”
The financial implications of an expanded Nations Cup are significant, and the “Pamoja” hosts haven’t had to wait long to start talking about money, especially in light of a recent change to the tournament rules that mandates host nations to now deposit a guarantee fee.
It is anticipated that the 2027 hosts will deposit $90 million (£73.7 million) in cash to CAF by January 15, 2025, which equates to $30 million per nation.
“None of the countries in the East African region was going to be able to host the tournament individually,” acknowledged Byamukana.
“This money is meant to facilitate the logistics involved around hotels, security, VIP protection.”
It is anticipated that the pre-paid guarantee deposit will reduce the possibility of a hosting rights delay or reallocation brought on by financial difficulties.
For instance, Guinea’s bid to host the 2025 Nations Cup was revoked in October of last year due to concerns about its preparedness, and Cameroon’s bid to host the 2019 competition was revoked so that Egypt would take over.
Beyond the initial deposit, the full cost of the 2027 joint tournament is still unknown, but Byamukana says “there is no cause for alarm” in terms of funding.
For a nation to host a Nations Cup, Caf mandates that they have a minimum of six stadiums, with two of those venues needing to hold 40,000 spectators or more. The remaining venues can accommodate upwards of 20,000 spectators, meaning that the three nations would only require two sizable anchor stadiums in total.
Uganda declared that the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium, which has been undergoing renovations of its own for nearly ten years, will serve as a backup venue and that the Mandela National Stadium in Kampala will serve as the main venue once ongoing work is completed.
Additionally, a stadium in Hoima, which is about 200 kilometers to the northwest of Kampala, is planned.
Ababu Namwamba, Kenya’s cabinet secretary, announced that work on a brand-new stadium named Talanta Stadium in Nairobi is underway.
The minister recently gave the nation’s military control over stadium renovations in an attempt to streamline the government’s onerous procurement process and remove any delays. The fact that Kenya was denied the opportunity to host the 2018 African Nations Championship in 2017 due to delays in stadium infrastructure may have served as the impetus for the handover.
“We will be ready for the Afcon no matter what, and we will be ready on time,” Namwamba promised.
With Wallace Karia, the president of the Tanzania Football Federation, confirming that the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam will serve as the primary venue, Tanzania looks to be the most prepared of the three hosts.
The 60,000-seat stadium was packed for the first African Football League match between Simba and Al Ahly on October 20, and it would be ready to host if the Nations Cup started today.
Major General Isamuhyo Stadium and Uhuru (Kinondoni Municipal) Stadium are also undergoing renovations; completion is anticipated for the following year.
“The stadiums are closer to completion than anyone may think,” stated Karia, the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) president.
In addition, he presented approved designs for the construction of new stadiums in the capital cities of Dodoma and Arusha, with construction set to begin in 2024.
“We are making incredible progress and will be ready ahead of schedule, although I do not want this to be translated as a bragging contest,” he added.
“Our goal remains hosting together and strengthening our East African community bond.”
Zanzibar’s sports minister, Tabia Maulid Mwita, announced the Amaan Stadium as a possible host venue, confirming that the city will be joining the bandwagon to host the Nations Cup and spreading its benefits.
“The stadium has already received a positive nod from CAF but we need to increase its current capacity to 20,000 seats, this work is already under way”, Mwita said.