President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with an official of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa at the opening ceremony
President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with an official of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa at the opening ceremony

13th African Games open in Accra

The African Games is officially underway in Ghana for the first time after a spectacular opening ceremony at the University of Ghana Stadium in Accra.

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Almost 3,000 athletes from 49 countries will compete in the Games — the 13th edition, Accra 2023 — which will end on March 23, 2024.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Friday declared the Games officially open, heralding 16 days of competition across 29 different sporting disciplines.

The ceremony, held in front of 10,000 spectators at the recently inaugurated University of Ghana Stadium, featured celebrities, musicians and sports men and women from 48 African countries who participated in the parade.

Parade

Countries that took part in the parade included Morocco, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon and Gambia.

Team Madagascar announcing their presence

Team Madagascar announcing their presence

The rest were Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sudan and host Ghana.

Showcase talent

In his address, President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to take advantage of the 13th African Games for generations to benefit.

He said Africa was blessed with a rich diversity, hence the need to cherish the unique contributions of participating countries who possessed different cultures, traditions and identity.

Ghana's contingent waving the national flag at the event

Ghana's contingent waving the national flag at the event

He said it was heart-warming to witness the role sports played in bringing the continent together.

“As you compete in the games in the coming days, remember that your efforts inspire countless individuals across the continent.

Strive for excellence, push your limits and showcase the immense talents that Africa possesses,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo urged participating countries to compete with integrity and sportsmanship, to honour the values of fair play and neutral respect in the competition.

A choreography display by the Ghana Dance Ensemble

A choreography display by the Ghana Dance Ensemble 

He called on key players in the sports ecosystem to rally behind Ghana in making the Games a memorable one.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations on your dedication and determination in reaching this prestigious Games,” he said.

For his part, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, promised the rest of Africa that Ghana would deliver a competition that would be difficult to forget.

 "Today, thanks to the 13th African Games, courtesy His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana can boast of the finest multi-sporting discipline facilities in the sub-region," he said.

"These facilities will continue to be useful not only to Ghana, but to the entire sub-region for training and competition purposes.

"This is a unique opportunity for Ghana and we are privileged and ready to deliver unforgettable games for Africa and the rest of the world."

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Games

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, praised Ghana for its significant investments in sporting facilities and infrastructure in preparation for the Games.

South Africa’s contingent

South Africa’s contingent

Mr Mahamat commended the leadership of President Akufo-Addo for spearheading these efforts, stressing the importance of such investments in promoting sports development across the continent.

Mr Mahamat expressed gratitude to all stakeholders involved in the successful organisation and preparations for the upcoming African Games.

He highlighted the pivotal role that sports, including the African Games, played in fostering peaceful coexistence, African unity and integration, aligning with the vision of the African Union for a prosperous and peaceful Africa.

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Cyclists in action during their race last Saturday

Cyclists in action during their race last Saturday

Reflecting on the history of the African Games, which began in Congo Brazzaville in 1965, Mr Mahamat underscored its significance as a platform to advance the continent's agenda and priorities.

Mr Mahamat urged all participants to uphold the values of fair play, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance, honesty, tolerance and teamwork throughout the event.

The Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Dr Kwaku Ofosu Asare, expressed unwavering confidence in Ghana's ability to host the Games successfully.

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Participants

He extended a warm welcome to all participants and acknowledged the significant responsibility placed upon the LOC while assuring stakeholders of the committee's dedication to delivering a successful and memorable event.

He acknowledged the commitment and support of President Akufo-Addo in making Accra 2023 a national priority.

Dr Asare also expressed gratitude to the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) and the Technical Commission for the African Games (TCAG) for their invaluable guidance, along with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and other stakeholders for their exceptional contributions.

Display

After the speeches, there was a 40-minute show, featuring performances from popular African musicians such as Shatta Wale, King Promise and Kamo Mphela.

There was also a spectacular display of lighting and fireworks, coupled with a dance performance which showcased the culture and tradition of all 16 regions of Ghana.

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