Sunday, February 5, 2023

Afcon Legacy may bring hat trick of mutual benefits

Botswana and Namibia stand to reap benefits beyond just sporting legacy if they are to win the rights to co-host the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in 2027.

Should the two Southern Africa neighbours win to host, the benefits of such will be felt across the economic, cultural and social terrains, even long after the event is finished. This is the view of Botswana Namibia 2027 (BONA 2027) bid committee official spokesperson Tuelo Serufho.

“Afcon is not just a mere sport event,” Serufho says. “It is bigger than sport. Granted, sport is just a vehicle used to deliver this very prestigious event.”

For both countries, who are known for their tourism, being a centre of attraction from the continent and beyond in the lead up to the event will be expected to raise their profiles as destinations of choice.

And for them to continue benefitting, a lot of investments will have to be undertaken to make sure a lasting impression is done to continue attracting tourists and hosting major events post Afcon 2027.

“As a bare minimum of the legacy for hosting, we will see major improvements across many sectors in both Namibia and Botswana. These will include health, hospitality, transport services and infrastructure, just to mention a few,” Serufho says.

With a certain level of expectation on health services expected when multitude of people arrive, both Botswana and Namibia will be expected to improve their health facilities and services. This will be done to meet the needs of all the expected visitors.

“Just as an example, if we win and Maun is one of the host cities as we wish, the standard of services and equipment at Letsholathebe Hospital will need to be raised to meet requirements. When the event is past, the equipment will remain there and the people will continue to enjoy the services. That on its own is a legacy,” he explains.

Concerning the hospitality industry, winning to host will mean that accommodation facilities will have to upgrade to meet the requirements of teams, officials and visitors. In the long run, both countries will have the capability to host major events and conferences as facilities will be in good shape.

The same will be expected in infrastructure development. With both Botswana and Namibian government busy trying to improve their road networks, winning the bid will compel them to fast track some of these infrastructural developments.

“Once such is undertaken successfully, citizens of both countries will enjoy the benefits of having better roads. This will facilitate ease of travel for individuals and goods across both countries even beyond the games,” Serufho says.

The BONA 2027 bid committee spokesperson is confident that the benefits will also be felt at human capacity level, where many will be expected to gain much needed skills.

“Those involved in the hosting process will gain certain skills. These skills will come handy for them in future, both within and outside the sport sector. They will make a living out of these and may even be used as consultants.”

On the sporting front, expectation is that hosting will leave both countries with world class facilities which will allow them to host more events in future. Should the two countries win the bid, they will be expected to improve their facilities.

Already, both countries are undertaking improvements in their stadiums as they seek to make them ready to qualify to host continental games. For Botswana, the intention is to make both the National Stadium and the Lobatse Sports complex meet CAF requirements. Even if they do meet CAF standard to host matches, the stadiums will still be expected to undergo some infrastructural audit to bring them to the levels expected of them to host Afcon finals.

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