Congratulations including from President
Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet Museveni also Minister of Education, flooded the social media shortly after the announcement by CAF President Patrice Motsepe that the three countries would jointly host the tournament.
Many called it a watershed moment for the country to finally invest in the development of sports facilities such as stadia and training facilities that will be a must-have for the tournament to take place.
President Yoweri Museveni praised the decision, as common sense: “In particular, I congratulate and thank their Excellencies SuluhuSamia and William Ruto for promptly agreeing to bid for the hosting with us. Common sense showed even the assessors, I am sure that the Pan-African effort was logically, the most attractive, apart from any other considerations.”
Museveni added: “This will promote our economies, especially the tourism sector.”
Tourism practitioner and proprietor of Uganda Lodges Amos Wekesa agrees with President Museveni that the tournament will be a boon moment for the tourism industry. He said: “When people move, money moves.” But he added a caveat that this is only possible if the country and the people are prepared with goods and services to sell.”
Jonathan McKinstry, the Irishman and former Uganda Cranes Coach urged Uganda to use the opportunity to develop sporting facilities.
According to sports analysts, it takes 6 stadia, (with at least 2 with a capacity of 40,000 seaters) and several training grounds to host AFCON tournament. With AFCON 2027 now a reality, there is hope that the government will quickly mobilize resources to put up a second stadium, besides Nelson Mandela national stadium that was donated by the Chinese.
Beyond modernising a country’s sports infrastructure, and supporting ameninities such as public transport systems to connect cities with stadia, the tournament could be a huge boost to the National carrier – Uganda Airlines, which already has connections to Southern Africa as well as West Africa.
The sense of excitement has however been dimmed by Uganda’s current poor state of sports facilities, but also the history of corruption and mismanagement witnessed in organizing such major international events.
The abject state of the country’s sports facilities has triggered a flood of critical memes through which Ugandans humorously attempted the depict the poor state of the country’s sports facilities. While this has rubbed regime apologists the wrong way, analysts say the government should use these memes as the message about what needs to be done, rather than just an indictment on it.
Monitor sports analyst Moses Dhakaba Kigongo said: “If I were a leader, those memes would be pointers of what is lacking. Understand the message, even though you do not like how it is being communicated.”
Ugandan-born BBC Radio presenter Allan Kasujja offered advice that while some are making a joke out of the announcement, others are positioning themselves to benefit from the tournament.
Despite the urge to have a positive outlook, a deep-seated sense of apathy still clouds many people’s conscience.
Social critic Timothy Kalyegira posted a cynical view of the possible outcome of the tournament, when he said: “The people who will cash in AFCON will be the usual ones who cash in o everything national. Using political connections and abuse of state power. The memes are a dark-humoured way of discussing, four years in advance, what will inevitable happen.”
A back-and-forth discussion between Kasujja and Kalyegira did not help to erase the sense of skepticism about the sense of apathy held by some Ugandans, going by the support that Kalyegira’s comment attracted.
For example, even after Kasujja probed Kalyegira to have something to put on offer, the reaction was negative.
He said: “Uganda is a one-family state. All meaningful contracts and prospects are reserved for this family or friends or said family. The only way I’ll cash in on AFCON is by betting $1000 with you (Kasujja) that the nepotism and corruption will happen. I am sure of winning that bet.”
In the end however, how Uganda comes out of the event shall depend on whether or not the goverment and everyone else is able to prepare and not despair, and also avoid repeat of past mistakes surrounding such major international gatherings.
As Ian Rumanyika, the PRO of Uganda Baati aptly observed: “I am excited and worried at the same time. AFCON is a huge opportunity. How we handle it, should be everyone’s concern.”