Members of Parliament (MPs) have called on the government to prioritize infrastructure development as the country gears up for the eagerly anticipated AFCON 2027 tournament.
This call was made during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, where the House discussed a motion to pay tribute to the government for successfully securing the Pamoja bid.
On September 27, 2023, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarded the hosting rights for the 36th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2027 to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania under the East Africa joint Pamoja Bid.
The collective appeal from Parliament underscores the vital role that robust infrastructure plays in the success of an international sporting event. The MPs acknowledge that AFCON 2027 represents not just a sports competition but a unique opportunity for the host nation to showcase its capabilities on the global stage.
They emphasize the significance of giving top priority to infrastructure projects, including the construction of stadiums, transportation networks, accommodation facilities, and communication infrastructure. This focus goes beyond the immediate tournament needs; it envisions a lasting legacy of improved infrastructure that will benefit the nation for years to come, bolstering tourism, trade, and overall quality of life.
Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam Woman Representative), the mover of the motion, articulated, “Hosting AFCON comes with immense benefits; it will bring infrastructural development like roads, sports facilities, and we have been looking forward to this. Therefore, I encourage the government to build stadia across the region.”
However, concerns were raised by Hon. Ssolo Kayemba (NUP, Bukomansimbi South County) about Uganda’s readiness due to issues such as corruption and deficiencies in sports facilities. He cited the example of Cameroon in 2019, which won the bid but was unprepared and had to transfer the tournament to Egypt.
Hon. Florence Nebanda (Butaleja District Woman Representative) emphasized the importance of regional balance in infrastructure development to ensure inclusive participation and sports growth.
Hon. Elijah Mushemeza (INDEP, Sheema County South) pointed out the economic benefits of hosting AFCON, including improved infrastructure and the potential for tourism and trade.
Hon. Andrew Oulanyah Ojok (Omoro County Member of Parliament) called for inclusiveness in the distribution of economic benefits from the event to benefit all Ugandans.
Hon. Josyline Kamateneti (Ntungamo District Woman Representative) highlighted the need to allocate sufficient funds to the Ministry of Health to equip and rehabilitate regional hospitals, ensuring the country is adequately prepared for emergencies during the tournament.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpugga, saw AFCON as an opportunity to unite the nation and market Uganda globally, emphasizing the importance of political unity.
Hon. Moses Magogo (NRM, Budiope East County), also the President of the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA), stressed the responsibility of executing the event successfully, especially in terms of sports facilities.
The State Minister for Sports, Hon. Peter Ogwang, affirmed the government’s commitment to delivering AFCON 2027 by prioritizing sports infrastructure and proposed the establishment of a Sports Fund and taxing betting companies to fund sports facilities.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa assured MPs that finances and infrastructure would be readily available to ensure the success of the tournament and avoid any embarrassment for the country.
In addition to the infrastructure development, Uganda is expected to pay US$30 million as hosting fees to CAF before February 2025, in addition to the requirement of having at least two accredited stadiums for the event.