Kenya's race against time in readiness for 2027 Afcon

President William Ruto at the Jamhuri Grounds, Nairobi County, for the groundbreaking of the construction of the Talanta Sports City. [PCS]

After months of waiting, the government has finally made a major progress in its preparation to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with Tanzania and Uganda by launching the construction of Talanta Sports City Stadium, at Jamhuri Grounds, Nairobi.

Yesterday, President William Ruto officiated the groundbreaking ceremony of the 60,000-seater sports arena that is set to be completed in December 2025, two years before the continental showpiece.

The facility has been earmarked to host the tournament together with Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums.

As per Confederation of African Football (Caf) requirement, Afcon hosts must have six stadiums in readiness for the tournament. Uganda and Tanzania are equally moving with speed if the progress of the refurbishment of some of the earmarked venues like Namboole and Benjamin Mkapa stadiums is anything to go by.

With the commitment and political goodwill the three nations have received from their Presidents, William Ruto (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania), the region is poised to stage a historic event in 2027.

Talanta Sports City, the first-ever modern facility to be built in the country in decades since the construction of Kasarani and Nyayo, will be equipped with a standardised athletics track, football and rugby fields.

"I am delighted to be here with you as we break ground for the construction of the Talanta Sports City, a transformative project that is designed to redefine our nation's sporting profile and deliver an iconic facility and infrastructural development legacy for this city, and for our nation,” said President Ruto.

“Afcon 2027 is just the beginning of our nation's endeavour to become a regional, continental and global centre for sports development and competition. To get here, we are committed to investing intensively and strategically to upgrade various sports facilities, including the comprehensive renovation of the Kasarani Stadium, as well as the construction of new modern premises and amenities.”

The construction of the football-customised top-tech green masterpiece will be supervised by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

This comes barely a few months after Karasani, the largest facility in the country, was closed for renovations in December 2023 as the East Africa region prepares to stage the 2027 Afcon.

On his part, Sports CS Ababu Namwamba said: “We have spent six months behind the scenes to conceive and curate what will be an iconic landmark. The stadium is a unique design curated to reflect the very best of Kenyan culture. It is a customized football-only design tailored for soccer and rugby.”

Meanwhile, the construction of Sh6.6 billion Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County is in top gear with contractors racing against time to complete the facility in the next three months ahead of the African Nations Championships (CHAN) competitions in September.

Bukhungu has been selected to host selected CHAN matches. Kenya will co-host the event with Tanzania and Uganda.

The national government in partnership with the Kakamega county government released Sh790 million two weeks ago to fast-track the construction of Bukhungu.

Speaking during the inspection of the ongoing construction, Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa said the renovations will be completed in the next three months.

“Based on the work that is going on this stadium will be ready in three months and the contractors have assured me that in the next two weeks, they will have covered the drainage of the stadium and planting of grass,” said Barasa.

“We have a completion schedule from our contractor that guarantees a sitting capacity of 25,000 by the time CHAN competitions kick off, and we expect officials from Caf to do the final inspection of the stadium by the end of June.”

The governor revealed that after the CHAN tournament, they intend to upgrade the facility to a 40,000-seater. The county had already allocated Sh570 million towards this project in the 2023/2024 financial year.

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba said: “When we were here a month ago, we promised we were going to look for resources. We are now back with enough resources for the completion of Bukhungu ,” said Namwamba

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