Government is considering building a stadium in Solwezi. According to Steven Masumba (Sports D Minister) Solwezi will be the next stadium after Livingstone and Mongu have been built. Government officials have already done preliminary studies in the area and drawn a strategic plan for the project.
The Sports Ministry believes North Western province has "undeniable potential for athletics" but lacks sports infrastructure to help harness the talent. It also has football potential with a "growing fan base" thanks to Division One North football clubs Bresmar United and Kansanshi Dynamos.
The Government's believes that building sports stadiums is an important way of "taking development to the people". The proposed stadiums are all in excess of US$50m each. Levy Mwanawasa and the new stadium cost around US$70m. The Chinese contributed to funding the Levy Stadium but the rest of the cost has been picked up by Zambian tax payers.
With no new Chinese contributions the new stadiums in Mongu, Livingstone and Solwezi are to be funded by Zambian taxpayers. The stadiums make poor business sense to the private sector that is why they have not been built. Presumably people in Luapula, Eastern and Northern and Muchinga also want a stadium?
No one knows where this building of stadiums frenzy will stop. What we know is that the costs for such projects is staggering. We also know that these are are not projects where you expect to recoup the money. If Mwanawasa stadium experience is anything to go by, Government financial support to sustain them, even on the richer Copperbelt.
Question: Is there an economic case for the current programme of constructing stadiums? Why are Zambian politicians now so obsessed with building sports stadiums? Please share your comments and thoughts below.
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Chola Mukanga | Economist
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