Africa’s premier football competition, the AFCON, has always been the holy grail not just for its football teams but also its national governments.
In a show of opulence and progress, many national governments easily regard the event as a tool for propaganda to affirm their standing on the continent.
With many other continental leaders present for the tournament, the hosts leverage the opportunity to present its case for being a leader of sorts on the continent.
With Morocco and Libya already confirmed to host the 2015 and 2017 competitions, attention has turned to 2019 with Zambia, Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire all in the mix.
As plans start to gear up, Zambia are currently playing hosts to an inspection team from the Confederation of African Football.
The team comprising of Amr Fahmy, Paul Bassey, Amadou Diakite, Adoum Djibrine and Walter Gagg will inspect two of the four stadiums required to host the tournament- Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola and The National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka- while the other proposed venues- Livingstone and Mongu Stadiums- are yet to be completed.
Zambia will be hoping to erase the memories of their 1988 bid when they won the rights to host the event but had to withdraw due to economic problems.
Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire are also readying their plans and will be hoping to convince CAF and its inspectors before the official host nation is announced next month.
Hosting the AFCON is relatively profitable as compared to global events such as the World Cup, it costs considerably less to host. Another incentive for prospective hosts is that the impact of the event on economies is quite tangible with AFCON 2013 host city Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, for instance, recording about a R150 million impact from accommodation, entertainment, shopping and transport.
The South Africa AFCON LOC also announced a net profit of R3 639 890 from the event.
With South Africa already setting the standards in many regards, Zambia, Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire will all be hoping to replicate its successes and learnt the lessons of its few failures.