Government's digitisation drive offers sports entities opportunity to rebrand and maximise revenue - Dr Bawumia

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged stakeholders in the Ghanaian sports industry to embrace government's digitization drive to maximise the potential of sports to the youth and the Ghanaian economy.

Speaking as the Distinguished Guest of Honour at the 46th SWAG Awards in Accra, Dr. Bawumia stressed that sports has become a global industry providing opportunities to the youth and contributing immensely to economies around the world.

However, the Ghanaian sports industry, the Vice President noted, is lagging behind and has not realised its potential due to the failure to take advantage of the evolution of sports in different eras.

"In a recent interview with CNBC, I said that Ghana cannot miss out on the 4th Industrial Revolution after missing out on agriculture, industrial and ICT revolutions. Tonight, I want to state, and urge all sports stakeholders in Ghana that Ghana sports cannot afford to miss out on the oportunities of digitalization after missing out on television revenue and sustainable sponsorship," Dr. Bawumia said.

"The digitization agenda of the government offers sports entities in Ghana a unique opportunity to transform their brands and maximise their revenue stream through e-membership, e-ticketing and e-commerce," he added.

"By adopting the concept of digitization, which is the norm for all sports brands around the world, Ghanaian sports entities, especially football clubs, should be able to rake in more revenues from their fans, even if they are a few thousands of fans," he said.

The Vice President said there can't be a better time for the Ghanaian sports industry to embrace the use of digital technology as means of generating income after the growth of the sports was badly affected by the impact of coronavirus.

Advancing a strong case for digitization by Ghanaian sports entities, Dr. Bawumia referenced how clubs in Europe were able to keep themselves afloat during the peak of the pandemic through digitization, when competitions were suspended and games were played in empty stadia.

"Thanks to the power of television and other digital technologies, a number of leagues and competitions that were temporarily suspended returned, and millions of people around the world were reached and served their favourite sports, even as the world strived to find a solution to the pandemic," he noted.

"And thanks to the power of sponsorship, merchandising, and digital technology, a number of European football clubs kept themselves afloat and to a considerable extent, survived the debilitating impact of the pandemic. Even though these clubs and sports federations lost revenues due to the economic impact of the pandemic, their core operation was not affected, and most of them did not require stimulus packages to survive," he observed.

"The situation was, however, completely different in Africa, and here in Ghana in particular. Our sports federations and clubs were limited in maximising oportunities in television, sponsorship packages and e-commerce, even as they played in empty stadia," Dr Bawumia noted.

"The difference was that, while European sports federations and clubs had the luxury of leveraging on lucrative television deals, sponsorship packages and e-commerce, our federations and clubs were limited in leveraging these opportunities, which have become indispensable to sports development in this era," he added.

All hands approach

The Vice President continued that the negative impact of Covid-19 on sports in Ghana should be an opportunity for all stakeholders to reflect and have a second look at what they have been doing in Ghana sports that has not gone on well.

"Why have we not leveraged on media rights, sustainable sponsorship and lately digitization to re-position sports as a thriving industry in Ghana?" he asked.

"The moment for action is now, and I want to urge SWAG to spearhead the campaign to get our sports entities to embrace digitization. Digitization should be the new oil and gold for our sports entities.

"We have often stated throughout the last decade that sports has become big business. It has been so globally, especially in developed countries. Over there, the business nature of sports is not limited to only football. It is a huge industry encompassing all sports and all stakeholders, including sports writers."

Government's continuous investment and support

Dr. Bawumia assured members of the sports fraternity of the commitment of the Akufo-Addo government to support the development of sports in the country, to provide more opportunities for the youth.

To buttress government's commitment, the Vice President listed a number of investments the Akufo-Addo government has made in sports infrastructure development and promotion of sports in the past five years.

These included the renovation of the country’s major sports stadia, ongoing construction of 10 multi-purpose youth sports centres in ten different regions, Covid-19 stimulus packages to the sports industry, investment in sports national teams, as well as the decision to host the 2023 African Games in Accra, which he said will ensure the provision of infrastructure for other sports disciplines.

Dr. Bawumia, who had earlier supported SWAG towards the organisation of the awards, also presented 10,000 Cedis each to winners of two special awards he adopted, which were the Female Footballer of the Year and the Sports Journalist of the Year.

Olympic Bronze Medalist, boxer Samuel Takyi was adjudged the SWAG Sports Personality of the Year.