An East African AFCON, think about it…

Was watching the opening match of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, between Equitorial Guinea and Libya, Saturday night. The commentators were harping on about how the Guineans wouldn’t have got into the cup of nations any other way, and how CAF, apparently, have a policy of using hosting rights for the biggest football event in Africa as a kind of stimulus to focus energy for much needed Infrastructure development and so on. On a continent where alijenga barabara (he built roads) is enough for a president to overcome multiple corruption and political crises and have a positive legacy, we could safely say that kind of thing is a big deal. As much as that particular game wasn’t much to write anywhere about, the commentators got me thinking, why not have The East African Community Members join forces to host the Africa Cup of Nations? Okay, maybe 5 (6 if you assume Southern Sudan’s membership application being approved by then) is too many cohosts for a 16 team event. However if you think about it, a Kenya-Uganda-Tanzania joint bid for the Cup of Nations would go a long way to achieving the type of economic integration, that regional policy wonks are always singing about. On a football level, getting into the Cup of Nations via qualification has proven too much for the 3 teams in question more often than not. I’m not even certain Tanzania have been to the cup of Nations yet. Most importantly though is that, I cannot remember a CECAFA nation, never mind an East African one hosting the Africa Cup of Nations. Basically its high time the gravy train came through this region. So how would an East Africa hosted AFCON work? Between the three core East African Countries we’ve got at least 3 recently built (or renovated) football stadiums, at least 5 international (by classification) airports, and at least one decent national airline. Kenya already has a strong reputation as a tourist destination, whilst Tanzania and Uganda could use the exposure, so most of the key boxes are ticked in that respect. Bringing the tournament to the region could force open some of the bottlenecks that still exist over movement of goods and labour. If you not going to issue an East Africa Visa for any other reason, do it for the fans who will have to follow their teams across these borders during the tournament. That and several other initiatives, like a common currency, Equal V.A.T and so forth. Some of those international trunk roads that seem permanently stuck in ‘the design stage’ might actually get built. Most importantly, is this could be a big revenue generator for local industries, if they play their cards right, as well as a very potent way of pushing the advantages of doing things together rather than on our own. All in all I can’t see a reason not to go for an East Africa hosted Africa Cup of Nations. What do you think?

Author: Kimemia Maina

blogger, writer, dreamer...

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