African Games at what cost?
Artist’s impression of the Borteyman project

African Games at what cost?

Former President John Dramani Mahama last year advocated for the cancellation of the African Games due to the dire financial constraints bedevilling the nation.

He also said that the economic challenges in the country made it inexpedient to commit huge resources to host such a big event.

An economist and a former President of the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA), George Haldane Lutterodt, also kicked against the hosting of the event expressing similar sentiments as the former President.

With seven months left to the hosting of the games and without the completion of a single structure, things appear bleak for the organisers.

Not even the advancement of $140 million out of the $750 million Afreximbank loan secured by the government has been used to erect any substantial structure that sports fans can salivate about and to be hopeful for.

In fact, since Ghana gained the right to host the continent’s largest sporting event, aside from the press conferences there is little to show for by way of promoting the event through advertisements or some activations by the Local Organising Committee(LOC) to whet the appetite of Ghanaians about the event.

The Executive Chairman of the LOC, Dr Kwaku Ofosu Asare, told the Graphic Business that failure to host the games will come at a huge cost to the country. “I mean look at the infrastructure under construction, the monies that have gone into it and monies spent so far,” he told the Graphic Business in an interview.

He remains hopeful that the games would come off in spite of the harsh economic conditions currently facing the country. He said that Ghanaians would come around should the competition eventually start.

"I want to assure you that the government will mobilise the needed resources and ensure the successful hosting of the games because hosting this tournament will boost the economy," he stated.

"Ghana has never hosted the African Games before and hosting it gives us an opportunity to win in some of the disciplines. One discipline; boxing, in which we have a comparative advantage, I hope, can bring honours to the country," he retorted to the media last year.

Added to this major challenge of the infrastructural deficit is the raging disagreement between the African Sporting Confederation and the African Union over marketing rights, which also threatens the realisation of the event.

Analysts fear if the country was unable to host this event, it would come at a huge cost to the nation, the results of which may be unquantifiable in monetary terms as it would have lingering effects on all sectors of the economy such as adding to the unemployment situation in the country.

Using sports as a tool to create jobs to grow an economy is nothing new. In the United States (US), “the sports industry is projected to grow at a value of US$83.1 billion this year,” according to, which is more than our national GDP.

Many young Americans get employment and eke out a living through sports. In the Scandinavian countries, sports has been the means of survival for many of their citizens and that has become more pronounced during major international events such as the Winter Olympic Games.

Some analysts also project that the level of interest in the upcoming games may soar on account of the low publicity given to the games so far. They also point to the current economic challenges, as well as the lack of sponsorships and the sale of merchandise by marketers.

Many have suggested that with the current dilemma, it was time the government takes quick decisions to benefit from the games or be a perishable loser.

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