I have a very strong conviction that Manifesto-based campaigns will, to a large extent, determine our future elections in Ghana. Taking a cue from the happenings of the 2020 Elections, I believe that whichever party wins any future elections will be as a result that that Party was able to deliver most on the promises made during their previous stay in power.
Indeed, it is for this reason that I find this exercise of reiterating the Agenda for Ghana Sport (2021 – 2024) critical to the transformation of sport into an emerging industry so that Manifestos without performance cease to be business as usual after each 4-year elections.
The outstanding issues of the National Sport Policy and the National Sport Fund, for me, obviously occupy the topmost place on the list of the matters arising of the Agenda and why, considering the work done so far, the two ought to be operationalized by the end of the first quarter of this year, March 2021.
JUSTIFICATION FOR NEW YOUTH RESOURCE CENTRES
The last four years witnessed massive investments in the provision of Youth Resource Centres for the then ten (10) regions of the country plus the planned six (6) for the new regions created – North East, Savannah, Western North, Bono, Bono East and Oti regions.
The first ten (10) Centres being financed by the National Youth Authority (NYA) are Dormaa (Brong Ahafo Region), Wa (Upper West Region), Dunkwa-on-Offin (Central Region), Ho (Volta Region), Koforidua (Eastern Region), Nyinahini (Ashanti Region), Azumah Nelson Sports Complex, Kaneshie (Greater Accra Region), Yendi (Northern Region), Navrongo (Upper East Region) and Axim (Western Region).
The next six (6) new Centres to be constructed as part of the second phase shall comprise Dambai (Oti Region), Damongo (Savannah Region), Nalerigu (North West Region), Techiman (Bono East Region), Goaso (Ahafo Region) and Sefwi Wiawso (Western North Region).
There are also plans to complete the New Edubiase as well as the University of Ghana Sports stadia as part of the next phase of the overall project concept.
The project matrix involves 5,000-seater mini-stadium facilities, when completed, and comprising an 8-lane athletic track, a FIFA standard pitch, a career counselling centre, basketball and handball courts as well as a multi-purpose sport hall, a restaurant and an ICT centre.
Originally, each centre was estimated to cost one million, eight hundred thousand US Dollars (US$1.8 million) with the projects expected to be completed in nine (9) months. Indeed, for the first four (4), they are expected to be handed over by next month, February this year, 2021.
Again, granted normal variations in the construction industry against the impact of the COVID – 19 generally, I expect the final costs of each centre to rise up to almost three million, one hundred thousand US Dollars (USD$3.1 million) per centre, especially for the quality of the tartan tracks to be used and other accessories. Evermore will be the usual adjustments for inflation to give us a total cost of forty-nine million, six hundred thousand US Dollars (USD$49.6 million) for the sixteen (16) Centres.
The Ministry of Finance, mindful of all the talk of ‘wastes’ in relation to the management of all sports facilities built since 2007 or refurbished severally since 1963 when Ghana hosted the first Cup of African Nations, directed in June 2019 that henceforth amongst other documentations to be required, the Ministry of Youth and Sports should submit a BUSINESS PLAN FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF ANY NEW OR TO-BE-REFURBISHED SPORT FACILITY as a matter of necessity.
The compulsive need for the Business Plan for each facility is to identify as well as consolidate all the revenue generating avenues against the cost of the projects plus annual operational expenses; and this should be the cardinal basis for the selection of actual sites / cities’ choices. In such instances, it might even emerge that a different town or city could have been the most profitable option than what had been chosen for very good reasons – such as more central to the catchment areas for both talents and spectators for more commercial viability.
I want to believe that routing these new ‘pseudo’ Youth Resource Centres (or rather sports facilities) through the funding from the National Youth Authority (NYA) was not to avoid subjecting their payment approval processes to the requirements of the Ministry of Finance; not forgetting that the source of the funding is the NYA’s share of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), and therefore from the Central Government.
I recall with some trepidation an advert placed by the National Sports Authority (NSA) that it has received financial clearance to recruit staff to augment and fill vacancies to oversee the management of the new stadia across the country.
The long list of the available positions included coaches – all disciplines, sports development officers, finance officers / accountants, IT officers, Public Relations officers, Marketing officers, Estate officers, Facility Managers, Administrative officers, human resource officers, physiotherapists, procurement officers, storekeepers, technical officers, technician engineers, Engineers, internal auditors, secretaries, security officers and safety officers. If it isn’t the usual JOBS FOR THE BOYS AFTER EACH ELECTIONS, my considered approach would definitely have been much different.
If the Ministry of Finance demands an appropriate SUSTAINABILITY PLAN for each facility within the MMDA concept as engines of growth and development for the announced cities / towns, then the exercise does not mean loading the facilities with all kinds of manpower, without recourse to the appropriate business plans, which have not been formulated or crafted for each venue.
It is important to recognize that if we are to continue on this tangent to build more youth resource centres for many more cities / towns, to mean a second for each region in future, then the sustainability model would be necessary, even in the initial stages of the project.
I want to recall with nostalgia some of the earlier facilities developed for our local football leagues like the Kaladan Park in Tamale, Gyandu Park in Sekondi, Siwdu (later Robert Mensah Stadium) & Victoria Parks – both in Cape Coast, Coronation Park in Sunyani, GHAPOHA Park in Tema, Rovers Park at Tafo, Jackson Park at Kumasi, and the Swedru Park – all these facilities now belong to history.
Definitely, I am a bit worried especially where I had done an evaluation exercise over two (2) major stadia – one newly built at Essipon, Sekondi and another refurbished – the Baba Yara Stadium at Kumasi for CAN 2008 Fiesta; and coming to the conclusion, as various public discussions have also alluded to in the past, that it is about time to privatize stadia management in Ghana for very tangible returns on investments and other cogent reasons.
Otherwise, the almost fifty million dollars (USD$50.0 million) to be used for constructing the sixteen (16) Youth Resource Centres might turn out, seemingly as a waste as the funds used for the four (4) facilities used for the 26th Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 2008 have become – as a result of poor facility management.
MANAGEMENT OF EXISTING FACILITIES & SUSTAINABILITY
Ghana’s hosting of the 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations 2008 afforded the country the opportunity to remodel two existing stadia – Accra and Baba Yara (Kumasi) plus two new stadia at Essipon, Sekondi and Tamale.
In addition, we also provided a number of training pitches, which were located at educational institutions as part of the legacies of hosting the CAN 2008 including Fijai SHS (Sekondi), Tamale SHS, NOBESCO (Tamale), PRESEC (Accra), Achimota SHS (Accra), ATTC (Accra), Prempeh SHS (Kumasi), Opoku Ware SHS (Kumasi) and Wesley College (Kumasi).
Even before the hugely successful hosting and organization of the CAN 2008 had ended with the final match, staff of the then National Sports Council were up in arms against privatization of the management of the four (4) main stadia used for the tournament at great costs.
Indeed, the Report submitted by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) under my watch was extensive in the way forward for their management to accrue revenues estimated in excess of two million, five hundred thousand US dollars (USD$2.5 million) per annum for both Essipon & Tamale (Aliu Mahama) stadia; and estimated revenues in excess of six million US dollars (USD$6.0 million) per annum for both Accra & Kumasi (Baba Yara) stadia.
This means that for the last twelve (12) years post-CAN 2008, the possible estimated accruals we would have enjoyed as a nation would have been a gross thirty million US Dollars (USD$30.0 million) for both Essipon & Tamale stadia; whilst Accra and Kumasi facilities would each have earned a gross seventy-two million US Dollars (USD$72.0 million) over the same period. Granted that these sums would have been abated for management, including periodic maintenance costs with all consultancies by say, forty-five per centum (45%), the estimated total accruals to be paid to the Ministry of Finance through the MOYS from 2008 to 2020 for the four (4) facilities under private management would have been ninety-one million, eight hundred thousand US Dollars (USD$91.8 million).
Unfortunately, whilst we have been denied this quantum of revenue over the last twelve years, the Ministry of Finance have had to provide some money to the rehabilitation of both the Accra and Cape Coast Stadia to enable Ghana host the 11th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2018, whilst additional sums amounting to about fifty million Ghana Cedis (GH₵50.0 million).
What is even worse is the extent we have allowed the facilities to deteriorate in value to the extent that using the Depreciation Replacement Cost Method, the current market value of the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi stands at twenty-eight million and forty thousand US Dollars (USD$28.040 million) and the Essipon Stadium, Sekondi has twenty-five million, six hundred thousand US Dollars (USD$25.6 million).
It cost the State about forty million US Dollars (USD$40.0 million) to remodel the Kumasi Stadium for CAN 2008; thus just the cost of the remodeling against its current market value shows a depreciation of thirty per centum (30%) after eleven years of disrepair.
For the Essipon Stadium, constructed at about fifty million US Dollars (USD$50.0 million), when set against its current market value, shows a depreciation of forty-nine per centum (49%) also after about eleven years of gross disrepair.
The gravity of what faces the new Minister, would require urgent engagement of Cabinet to decouple management of the facilities from the core mandate of the National Sports Authority and to privatize their management because the Central Government cannot continue on this path. It is mind-boggling that as you read this piece, the Ministry of Finance has committed to various millions of Ghana Cedis for awards of contracts for the renovations of the four (4) stadia – Accra, Kumasi, Essipon and Tamale.
There is a certain myth surrounding the insistence of the National Sports Authority (NSA) to be managers of all these facilities by all means possible. The Sports Act 2016 (Act 934) only proffers a direction for the implementation of any Sustainability / Business Plan for the management of all sports facilities. I will therefore recommend the following clauses for the reading of any interested party – 3 (g); 3 (h); 21 (c); 25 (c) (iii), and 25 (k); whilst it would also be interesting for us to consider REGULATIONS, Section 29 (1), where the Minister, may by legislative instrument, make Regulations, amongst others –
- 29 (1) (e) – to provide for the regulations of persons onto or into any land, building of facility owned by, or under the control of the Authority;
- 29 (1) (h) – to prescribe standards for the establishment and operation of sporting facilities; and
- 29 (1) (i) – to provide for health safety standards at sports centres and facilities.
It means that the time to privatize the management of sports facilities in the country is now, considering the Len Clay Stadium at Obuasi.
There are several revenue sources to make the privatization exercise successful, definitely a WIN – WIN situation for all parties, the MOYS, the NSA and the private investor or facility management firm.
One serious option for any SUSTAINABILITY PLAN shall include the option of NAMING RIGHTS for any stadium – Kumasi could earn an annual fee of one million, three hundred thousand US Dollars (USD$1.3 million), whilst Essipon could command half a million US Dollars (USD$0.5 million) per annum.
Worse still is the number of commercial multiple-user option including the Corporate Boxes (we charged hundred thousand US Dollars for each box in Accra and Kumasi) and that at both Essipon and Tamale Stadia, there are a 46 (forty-six) room hotel space available with eight (8) concession terraces at both south and north stands which could be added to the hotel space for their general setup for an annual rental of two hundred and fifty thousand US Dollars (USD$250,000.00).
We CANNOT CONTINUE TO PLAY OSTRICH forever because we are afraid to lose a certain control over something that you have continuously failed at its management over the last how many years, maybe when Ghana hosted the 1978 AFCON, it is about time we take the bull by the horn as MEN to explore new ways of handling for instance STADIA MANAGEMENT in this country.
It is so, so unfortunate that we have travelled and continue to travel to other countries and marvel at how others are able to get it right and come back home to wallow in the same old way?
Do you know we went to great lengths to remodel and build the Hockey Stadium with water-based astro-turf so we could promote and sustain HOCKEY TOURISM in Ghana after we hosted and organized the 9th AfHF African Cup of Nations in 2009 with a 64-bed Hostel to camp players from abroad who were interested in camping in Accra before major continental or global tournaments? And yet, what do we see, the hostel occupied by students of different sort and facility totally rundown after 11 years?
I will never be tempted to ask if it is a CURSE because I know for a fact that we are more than capable to turn things around when we set our collective minds and wills to same, devoid of personal interests.
By Magnus RexDanquah
Land Economist, SportBusiness Consultant, Bid Architect & Manager
for CAN 2008 Tournament and 13th African Games Ghana 2023