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Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna rubbishes East Africa’s 2027 Africa Cup of Nations bid

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna had no words to mince for the Kenyan government in light of the country’s bid to be part of a joint East African bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.

The joint bid is with Uganda and Tanzania, dubbed ‘East Africa Pamoja Bid’.

During a Senate sitting held August 3, 2023, Sifuna argued that Kenya would have been in a position to host the matches had the former regime of president Uhuru Kenyatta kept their campaign promises to build several stadia across the country in the last decade.

He touched on this when he called out the government for delaying disbursement of funds to counties and affecting the operations of county governments.

“…Mr Speaker, we have county play grounds in Nairobi. We have a lot of talent. I was at Moi Forces Academy this afternoon for the Kenya Primary Sports Association Games to determine the team that will represent Nairobi in the national games in Kisumu. There is a lot of talent in Nairobi but we don’t have proper playing grounds. If you go to Camp Toyoyo, a pitch that was built a few years ago, it used to host all the games that were played in the area but if you look at the playing surface right now, it is in such bad shape that we need all the resources we can get for us to be able to provide proper facilities.

The Governor, out of the money counties receive in this particular year, has set aside about Sh 500 million for the refurbishment of City Stadium. And the shame of this country- I have seen people going around saying we are going to bid to host the African Cup of Nations- you know for a fact you are lying to Kenyans. You don’t have the facilities to do these things. If Kenyans elected truthful leaders who kept their word, we would be enjoying the six stadiums that we were promised in 2013. But right now, we are just wallowing in this miasma of people lying to us that we are going to host continental games when every Kenyan knows it is not going to happen,” said Senator Sifuna.

In May 2023, President William Ruto unveiled Kenya’s bid to host the AFCON. He said the government had a plan to tap into the wide pool of skills and talents in the country as he acknowledged neither of Kenya’s bid partners had the opportunity of hosting the AFCON tournament before. During his unveiling speech, he also said Kenya had embarked on a campaign to attract top international sports and athletics events to Kenya in order to stimulate local sports, promote tourism, create employment to enhance the country’s national sporting and athletics brand.

However, Kenya has been missing out of international meets for lacking adequate sports facilities  including stadiums to host the events. Kenya missed out on hosting the World Athletics Championship scheduled for 2025 due to lack of proper stadiums. Tokyo will now host the event. In 2021, FIFA banned the use of Nyayo and Kasarani Stadiums in hosting international tournaments due to being substandard.

In the 2013 presidential campaigns, former president Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto (now president), promised to build nine stadiums and refurbish existing facilities within six months of their reign if they won.

Most of these stadiums are still being constructed, 11 years later while some never had their grounds broken in their first term in 2013.

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