Friday, July 12, 2024

Ghana aiming to host Africa Games despite economic crisis

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Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Africa Feeds Staff writers are group of African journalists focused on reporting news about the continent and the rest of the world.

“Already over $200 million (€186 million) have been committed into the project,” Dan Kwaku Yeboah, the spokesman for the African Games Organizing Committee recently told DW in Accra.

“Yes, the economic challenges are there, but [the] government is 100% committed to ensuring that Ghana delivers the Games.”

Still, there has been growing scepticism about the wisdom of Ghana hosting the multi-million dollar event.

The West African country is in the midst of an economic crisis that has been described as the worst in a generation. Inflation stood at around 40% in April and the cost of food shot up by almost 60%.

Not only has this led to hardship for much of Ghana’s population, but it has also brought considerable pressure to bear on the government in Accra, which recently found itself unable to keep up payments on international loans, further exacerbating the situation.

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A lifeline from the IMF

It was against this backdrop, that in May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in with a loan package of $3 billion over three years.

However, the IMF’s envoy to Ghana, Stephane Roudet stressed that to ensure it receives the funds, Ghana would need to fully implement a strict fiscal consolidation program aimed at getting government spending under control while at the same time increasing revenues.

These stipulations have sparked scepticism even among Ghanaians who are generally supportive of the idea of the country hosting the Africa Games.

“Sure, recently we went to the IMF, borrowed some money, but then again, it comes with conditions,” sports journalist Michael Nsiah Otchere told DW. “So, will there be enough to pump into that area to ensure we host and host it well? I don’t think so.”

Even though the major funds needed have already been injected into the project, the actual hosting of the Games still brings with it significant additional costs. After all, the African Games are the continent’s biggest multi-sport event. More than 5,000 athletes from 55 nations are expected to compete in Ghana next spring. For nine of the 25 sports, including swimming, cycling and basketball, the competitions will also serve as qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.

Already postponed

The original plan was for Ghana to host the Games in August 2023, but the economic crisis led organizers to put them off until March 2024.

Still some locals, like sports fan Betty Yawson, aren’t convinced that this delay will be enough.

“2024 is just around the corner. But I mean the noise around it that Ghana is hosting such an event is is very quiet,” Yawson told DW. “There is nothing to show that Ghana is indeed going to host the African Games. And this is what will give people doubt whether it will come on or not.”

Moreover, morale among workers on the construction sites where the venues are still being built is extremely low, according to Otchere, the sports journalist.

“The last time I visited the Legon Sports stadium, which is earmarked for the events, most of the workers declined to speak on the record. But off the record they were complaining bitterly that they’ve been working all this while, but they’ve not been paid.”

Still, due to the huge financial and organizational effort being made by the oganizers, both Otchere and Yawson believe that Ghana could well go on to host the Africa Games after all.

“But will we make an impact? No, because we’ve clearly not been able to put in the needed work,” Yawson said. “This is what will give people doubt. Clearly we’ve not been able to market ourselves well to the world to tell them that Ghana is going to host the Games in 2024.”

Fate of Para-Games unclear

Still, the government and organizing committee in Accra remain undeterred. Having already received the first tranche of IMF funding of $600 million, they fully intend to ensure that the Games go ahead – with no further delays – something that may be easier said than done. Or as Organizing Committee spokesman Yeboah put it: “Time is our greatest enemy now.”

Making things even more urgent is the fact that Ghana is set not only to host the 13th edition of the Africa Games next March – but also the first African Para Games. That event, for which disabled athletes from all over Africa are to gather in Accra, is scheduled for early September.


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Source: DW.COM

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