AFCON 2027: Why Kenya’s budget allocation does not inspire confidence in EAC Pamoja Bid

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FOOTBALL AFCON 2027: Why Kenya’s budget allocation does not inspire confidence in EAC Pamoja Bid

Joel Omotto 18:58 - 17.06.2023

The Sports Ministry received a paltry Ksh6.4 billion for the 2023-24 financial year with no special funds set aside to upgrade stadia to CAF standards.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u finally read the controversial Finance Bill 2023 in Parliament on Thursday and while Kenyans will feel the pinch due to the various taxes that are set to be imposed, sports will also have it rough.

In the Bill, popularly known as Budget, Treasury allocated the Sports Ministry just Ksh6.4 billion for the financial year 2023-24. The money will be shared among the dockets under the ministry being sports, the arts, and social development, meaning what will go to sports will still be much lower than Ksh6 billion.

For starters, the 2023-24 allocation to the Ministry is 50 percent less than what it received in the previous financial year. Given the projects, teams, and initiatives the sports docket supports, this is a drop in the ocean and it makes matters worse for sportsmen and women.

But while this was somewhat expected given the low allocations the ministry has been receiving down the years, there was hope that there would be some funds set aside to help Kenya start early preparations for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations which the country is bidding for jointly with neighbours Tanzania and Uganda.

That was not the case, leaving many wondering if the government is really serious about the bid or if there will be another source of funds towards the bid.

Even though the tournament is four years away and it will be a joint bid, countries who host the event begin preparations early, especially on infrastructure which is costly and time-consuming.

Kenya currently does not have a stadium that meets international standards with Kasarani and Nyayo, the country’s biggest sporting facilities, having failed the test when inspected by Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 2021.

The two facilities, alongside the dilapidated Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, have reportedly been earmarked as Kenya’s venues for the continental tournament but given their poor state, they will need a lot of resources to be upgraded to international standards.

Many, therefore, expected Prof Ndung’u to set aside a special fund to upgrade stadia to CAF standards with a keen eye on the joint 2027 AFCON bid but this has not been the case, meaning the earliest this can be done is June 2024, unless, a seemingly broke government, gets funds from somewhere before then.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba revealed last month that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will need up to Ksh12 billion to host the tournament once their bid is accepted by CAF with each country sharing the burden equally.

It means Ksh4 billion will be required from Kenya and while it is not out of their reach, the early signs do not inspire any confidence.

CAF will determine who to award the hosting rights following a number of inspections on facilities and infrastructure as well an assessment on the governments’ commitment and it will be interesting to see what will be presented by Kenya during this vetting exercise.