Southern African News Features                                           SANF 06 No 72, August 2006
New stadiums planned as Zambia prepares for 2011 pan-African games   by Patson Phiri

Zambia plans to construct three new stadiums over the next four years to boost its sporting infrastructure ahead of 2011 when the All-Africa Games jamboree comes to Lusaka.

The Zambian government has already contracted a consortium of Chinese companies to construct the stadiums in Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone.

The proposed new 70,000-seat Lusaka stadium will be built next to the Independence Stadium, which is currently the largest sporting facility in Zambia and has a capacity to accommodate 35,000 spectators.

The other two stadiums in Ndola and Livingstone will have a seating capacity of 50,000 spectators each.

All the three complexes will have outdoor and indoor sports facilities for athletics, basketball, cricket, rugby, table tennis, volleyball, gymnastics and swimming. They will also have auxiliary infrastructure such as shopping malls, hotels and restaurants to ensure more convenience for the sports lovers.

The total cost of the new stadiums is still being worked out, according to the permanent secretary in Zambia's Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, Bob Samakai.

“The consortium, Beijing Construction, is a group of companies that has done a lot in building both in China and outside. They are currently building an ultra-modern stadium in Tanzania,” said Samakai.

The 2011 All-Africa Games will be the second high-profile sporting event to be hosted by southern Africa in two years. South Africa will have hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Zambia earned the right to host the All-Africa Games in April 2005 following the last-minute withdrawal of other bidders during a meeting of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) in Algeria.

The last All-Africa Games were held in Nigeria in 2003 and Algeria hosts next year's African games.

Gladys Nyirongo, a cabinet minister in Zambia was in Algiers in April last year to defend Zambia's bid and successfully backed the candidature of Sonstone Kashiba as secretary-general of the Cameroon-based SCSA.

At the Algiers meeting, SCSA advised Zambia to draw up a list of needs for the successful hosting of the 2011 games.

Zambia was urged to improve its infrastructure to international standards and resuscitate defunct sports such as hockey, softball and handball that feature prominently at the All-Africa Games.

President Levy Mwanawasa has invited the Zambian private sector to participate in erecting sports stadiums in the country to ease pressure on government.

“Government is keen to see the facilities built up quickly on a build, operate and transfer basis,” Mwanawasa said.

Preparations for the event have seen stakeholders in the administration of sports in Zambia hold a number of workshops with the help of experts from the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

In July, Zambia's National Olympic Committee (NOC) invited officials from the IOC to facilitate a special workshop called to strategise for the 2011 Games.

Since 1987 the games have been held on a four-year cycle usually a year before the Olympics. China hosts the next Olympic Games in 2008.

From 1991 the age group of participants at the All-Africa Games has been restricted to those under 23 years, with only three over-age players allowed per team.

Women's soccer featured as an All-Africa Games sporting discipline for the first time during the Nigerian games in 2003.

Zambia becomes the third member state of the 14-member Southern African Development Community to host the African games.

Zimbabwe hosted the sixth edition of the All-Africa Games in 1995, followed by South Africa in 1999. The first African games were held in the Republic of Congo in 1965.

(sardc.net)

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