•Last October, the Cabinet approved the construction of a new stadium and the renovation of four existing facilities in readiness for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.
•The proposed works include Talanta Sports Complex, a category-four football stadium that will host 60,000 spectators.
Kenya is currently engaged in an ambitious endeavour to construct stadiums throughout the nation to establish itself as a competitive sports destination and promote the development of talent.
Stakeholders regard the initiative as a significant advancement in the nation’s sports infrastructure that will give athletes access to cutting-edge facilities and provide communities with places for events and leisure activities.
Following Cabinet approval late last year, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) personnel are already working late into the night to renovate some of the facilities.
Last October, the Cabinet approved the construction of a new stadium and the renovation of four existing facilities in readiness for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.
The move came after the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) granted East Africa ‘Pamoja Bid’ the co-hosting rights for the upcoming tournament.
In a statement, the government revealed a comprehensive plan to set the stage for the premier continental football extravaganza which Kenya will co-host alongside Uganda and Tanzania.
“To successfully host Afcon 2027, the Ministry of Sports plans to undertake the construction of the Talanta Sports Complex and extensive renovations at the Nyayo National Stadium, MISC, and the Kipchoge Keino Stadium,” the statement read in part.
“The project works will ensure the stadia meet the standards set by the Caf in preparation for the Afcon 2027.”
The proposed works include Talanta Sports Complex, a category-four football stadium that will host 60,000 spectators.
“The facility will house a parking lot that can accommodate 5,000 vehicles, two training pitches (one with running track), a commercial hub, arena as well as a public transport terminus.”
Three other existing stadia —Kasarani, Nyayo and Kipchoge Keino — have been earmarked for renovation, where the government plans to rehabilitate the pitches, running track, and changing rooms for teams and match officials.
“There will also be a provision for medical rooms, doping control room and spectator-related areas, VIP, hospitality, media, TV, and broadcasting areas. Additionally, the government will construct ICT infrastructure and refurbish parking areas.”
Construction and renovation of the stadium will not only enable Kenya to successfully host Afcon 2027 but also reposition the region and Kenya as a competitive sporting destination.
“This will unlock economic opportunities to foster sporting development, and project a positive image on the global stage.”
Despite the lofty aims and excitement for the projects, stadium construction in Kenya has become a contentious issue.
Controversies about delays, stalling, and the delivery of subpar infrastructure have hampered the implementation of these projects. Many projects have slipped substantially behind schedule, frustrating the public.
Concerns have grown since a special audit study revealed that up to Sh1.04 billion in building costs for six stadiums throughout the country cannot be tracked back.
The special audit is in response to earlier queries made by Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, who wrote to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in January last year to demand an investigation into the projects. Namwamba voiced concern that the country’s billions invested in sports facilities may not have been worth it.
However, in a separate interview, Namwamba expressed confidence that the country’s stadiums will be ready in time for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations.
The CS said they were working around the clock to deliver cutting-edge facilities for the premier continental football showpiece.
“We have very clear timelines. Among the things that determine the success of a bid is the timelines. Everything has to be time-bound, everything has to have clear budgets, and we have figured out everything coherently and we believe that we are good to go,” Namwamba said.
“You are aware we have already advertised. We believe by 2025, we shall have met most of our targets,” he added. The CS said a plan has been put in place to allow national teams to use the facilities for training as refurbishing continues.
“We shall be closing these facilities, some longer than the others but even as we close, we shall factor in the reality that some of them will be needed for the qualifiers and preparations of the national teams.”
Namwamba said the government is making a valiant effort to regain Caf’s confidence after Kenya failed to follow through when it acquired the rights to host the 2018 Chan Cup.
“Kenya has long desired to host this competition. We’ve made arrangements to ensure that we won’t fail again after missing out on another chance earlier. We are now well aware of the standards required to host such a tournament,” Ababu stated.
The CS also explained the infrastructure master plan that the government has in place to make the sports projects a success.
“We have the infrastructure master plan, which shows how far we are in the planning process. The standardisation of Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums would be shown in the plan, along with any unfinished construction projects,” according to Ababu.
The CS said comprehensive refurbishment would be done at Nyayo Stadium to meet the minimum standard required by the world football governing body, Fifa.
“It is one of the three stadiums in Kenya that we are suggesting be used for the 2027 Afcon. We are working on all the essential parts including fixing the floodlights to make it possible to host nighttime matches without any difficulties.”
Furthermore, Sports Principal Secretary Peter Tum noted that an extensive master plan is in place to ensure the construction process is managed and completed appropriately.
In an interview on Friday, Sports Kenya director Pius Metto confirmed that the contractor was already on-site at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
“What I can say is that work on the Moi Stadium, Kasarani, is already in progress and a lot of ground has been covered in the renovation exercise,” Metto remarked.
“As for other facilities, we are still awaiting further communication on the way forward,” he added. Kenya suffered a huge blow in 2021 when both Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums were banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) from hosting international matches.
This is after both stadiums failed to meet the CAF standards following an inspection conducted by the continental football governing body.
“About the inspection visit conducted by Caf, we regret to inform you that the stadium did not meet the set minimum CAF stadium requirements and consequently will not be approved for the qualifying matches of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 matchday five and six,” read a letter from Caf.
In the Caf report, the two facilities failed to meet some prerequisites including adequate floodlights for night games, substandard referee dressing rooms and a below-par facility committed to first aid in addition to a lack of a modern Media Centre
Caf requires the surface of the pitch to be green, leveled and marked clearly in white. Markings on the pitch should be symmetric all over the field of play.
For evening matches, the floodlight capacity should be around 500 Lux. A minimum of 1200 Lux should be provided all over the pitch, covering uniformly every area of the playing field. All the current teams and referees' dressing rooms should also meet international standards.