Afcon 2027: What we must do

Namboole stadium is currently closed and under renovation. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

The respective government must commit to facilitating all the costs. It was reported that Rwanda spent over $21 million (approximately Shs75b to get facilities ready for the 2016 Africa Nations Championship, the second-grade tournament to Afcon.

The Confederation of Africa president Patrice Motsepe announced this past week that the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania won the rights to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.

This was after the now-famed ‘Pamoja Bid’ beat Egypt, Botswana and a joint submission by Nigeria and Benin.

To achieve this, the movers of the bid, mainly Fufa president Moses Magogo and his team, submitted a thoroughly organized book that was largely premised on the hope that the three governments will come through on all their promises.

Magogo had earlier in 2017 promised to bid for the 2025 edition that had been awarded to Guinea before being stripped off in October last year due to a slow pace in putting up the required infrastructure.

This (stripping off), the Caf President warned that could be repeated, after awarding the rights to the East African countries.

“We’re very strict in terms of the requirements that we are placing on these countries both in terms of freedom of movement of people in and out of the countries and the infrastructure,” Motsepe warned.

He reassured that the confederation will do continuous evaluations and assessment to determine the progress of the preparations.

“We shall be sending teams on a regular basis to form an evaluation and progress because the key is we are absolutely determined to maintain the highest possible standards for African football,” he added.

Government commitment

First of all, governments had to submit written assurances that the tournament would be held successfully without any glitches. 

Normally, for tournaments of such magnitude, the governments have to compromise their normal protocol. The letters comprised a memorandum signed by the cabinet that had specific commitments from the line ministries that touch on several issues, including sports, security, health, transport, and finance, foreign and internal affairs, among others. 

For example, the three governments must’ve committed to the free flow of Caf executive members, staff, teams and fans without any issues and assure their safety during the entire period of stay. They must also relax some financial controls to allow the different stakeholders to carry unspecified amounts of money without trouble. The heads of state personally signed those documents.

A bid without the government commitment is dead on arrival.

First-class facilities

With the new 24-team format comes more costs. Every host city is expected to have a five-star rated hotel for the Caf members and staff and at least a four-star hotel for the teams.

Up to four teams can share a hotel, provided all the set requirements are met. A minimum of six stadiums are required and twelve training grounds, two near each stadium.

An airport facility in the main city and additional facilities in host cities that are about 200km away from the capital. The country is required to provide a good transport network between the stadiums, training grounds and the hotels. The country is also required to provide police security for all the officials, teams and Caf guests.

Stadium requirements

As stated earlier, Caf requires at least six stadiums with two training grounds near each. The main stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies should be at Namboole’s level of at least 50, 000-seater with installed seats, one of 40,000 that will host one semi-final and four others of at least 20,000 sitting capacity.

Currently, only one stadium meets all the standards as stipulated by Caf in case a member is to host the Africa Cup of Nations. That is the 60,000-seater Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar Es Salaam.

Tanzania submitted the Mkapa Stadium in Dar Es Salaam and the Amani Stadium in Zanzibar and has promised to construct another with a capacity of 30,000 in Arusha as well as upgrade seven others.

Uganda promised to build two more in Hoima and Lira City on top of namboole (45,000-seater).

Kenya is already renovating Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani (60,000-seater), Nyayo Stadium (30,000-seater) and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.

The stadium must be an international class in that they have a smooth playing surface with good drainage, well-separated media tribunes and a mixed zone with fully functional internet services, anti-doping rooms, four changing rooms, transport infrastructure and a working lighting system for high-definition video production.

Currently, Uganda has no stadium that fully meets all the standards.

The cost

The respective government must commit to facilitating all the costs. It was reported that Rwanda spent over $21 million (approximately Shs75b) to get facilities ready for the 2016 Africa Nations Championship, the second-grade tournament to Afcon.

For Cameroon, the last host, Africa Business reported that the government sunk over $885 million (approximately Shs. 3.186 trillion) to ensure a smooth hosting. About $280 million went into constructing the Olembe stadium that hosted the final. 

It is estimated that the country could’ve fetched something between $150 to 200 million in revenue from the month-long showpiece.

An insider from the bidding team revealed to Daily Monitor that the preparations are expected to cost slightly in excess of $100m.

Currently, about shs97b has been released to refurbish Namboole with the works still going on.

Not yet Uhuru

The issue of hosting the continental tournament has not been a straightforward one.

In 1996, Kenya won a bid to host, but it was later pushed to South Africa. Zimbabwe was selected for 2000 but it eventually ended in Ghana and Nigeria for the first ever tournament to be hosted by two nations. The 2013 final was withdrawn from Libya due to civil war and traded years with South Africa, which was initially set to host the 2015 one. 

Due to the protracted war in Libya, Morocco was selected to host the 2017 edition but they later withdrew due to the Ebola pandemic and the final took to Equatorial Guinea. That affected the 2017 final that was eventually hosted in Gabon. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda expressed interest for a joint bid but didn’t submit.

Cameroon was initially set to host the 2019 edition but because of slow preparations, the rights were stripped and awarded to Egypt. They were instead rewarded with the 2021 version, with Ivory Coast and Guinea adjusting forward by a tournament. 

Guinea was stripped in October last year, two years and four months before the actual projected month for the final to kick off, for similar reasons. Just recently, Uganda withdrew from hosting the 2020 Afcon Beach Soccer after winning the rights in November 2018.

That means the clock has started running and that Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania must show major progress by the end of next year to avoid a similar scenario.

Since its inception in 1957, 19 countries have hosted the Afcon finals.

Africa Cup of Nations


1957: Sudan (3 teams)  

1959: United Arab Republic (3 teams)

1962: Ethiopia (4 teams)

1963: Ghana (6 teams)

1965: Tunisia (8 teams)

1968: Ethiopia (8 teams)

1970: Sudan (8 teams)

1972: Cameroon (teams)

1974: Egypt (8 teams)

1976: Ethiopia (8 teams)

1978:  Ghana (8 teams)

1980: Nigeria (8 teams)

1982: Libya (8 teams)

1984: Ivory Coast (8 teams)

1986: Egypt (8 teams)

1988: Morocco (8 teams)

1990: Algeria (8 teams)

1992: Senegal (12 teams)

1994: Tunisia (12 teams)

1996: South Africa (15 teams)

1998: Burkina Faso (16 teams)

2000: Ghana/ Nigeria (16 teams)

2002: Mali (16 teams)

2004: Tunisia (16 teams)

2006: Egypt (16 teams)

2008: Ghana v

2010: Angola (15 teams)

2012: Gabon/Equatorial Guinea (16 teams)

2013: South Africa (16 teams)

2015: Equatorial Guinea (16 teams)

2017: Gabon (16 teams)

2019: Egypt (24 teams)

2021: Cameroon (24 teams)

2023: Ivory Coast (24 teams)

2025: Morocco (24 teams)

2027: Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda (24 teams)