Addis Ababa, 8 December 2022 (ECA) - Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission (ECA), highlighted the significant potential of sports, sporting events, and sports tourism for Africa's economic growth and development. Mr. Pedro joined a panel discussion for ECA's It's Your Turn! conversation series on the topic of sports: a game changer for Africa! on 8 December 2022.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Pedro pointed to the growing African population “We have 1.3 billion people now; by 2050, we will have 2.5 billion people – we are a very young continent, but how will we generate jobs for those young people? I would argue that sports provides huge opportunities, and the sports sector and its related development infrastructure create those opportunities for those young people. We must retain talent on the continent."
Will Mbiakop, Director of the African Sports and Creative Institute and moderator of the session, explained, “Africa is facing three major challenges, namely, its growing demographic, the economic challenges as 15 to 16 million people enter the job market annually, and climate change.” However, Mr. Mbiakop underlined the potential revenue that sports and sporting events could bring to Africa, noting that the current FIFA World Cup is expected to generate USD$ 4.7 billion and Qatar, the event's host country, is expected to make USD$ 1.7 billion toward its economy.
Oumou Kane, Head of Women’s Football at the Mauritian Football Federation, spoke about the importance of promoting women in football, “in our association, we have always used sports as a driver to support women’s rights. So how can we identify those talented young players? We have to work at the grassroots level within our communities; we need to work with schools. We have to work on the cultural mindsets of our communities."
Ms. Kane also shared her thoughts on building Africa's sports economy, stressing the need for Africans to give due value to the products produced on the continent to help generate the local production of goods.
Nqobile Ndlovu, Director of Cash N Sports Research, provided an overview of the business landscape of sports on the continent, “60-70% of league funding, primarily in football, across Africa comes from broadcasting. Private equity funding and sponsorship are not a thing in Africa at all. Additionally, unlike other parts of the world where revenue comes from games and ticket sales, it is not like that here as we don’t have the infrastructure for those kinds of events.”
To crowd in more sponsorship money, Mr Ndlovu pointed to the need for more data and information that speaks to the value of Africa and gives brands a firm understanding of what is happening on the continent.
Navalayo Osembo, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Enda Athletic, added, “sports tourism is definitely the most untapped form of tourism. But while we are making strides, we could invest more in infrastructure quality. It's also more than just the game, but about the customer's experience, so we need to think about the state of our stadium facilities; how will we ensure people can access the games outside of stadiums?”
Ms. Osembo also highlighted social media as an opportunity for players to showcase their successes and create and develop interest which, in turn, can be a source of great revenue.
In closing, the Acting Executive Secretary expressed the ECA’s willingness to engage with panellists further and bring other UN organizations to take the topic of pushing sports and sports tourism forward on the African continent.
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