The 2023 Africa Investment Forum Market Days, held in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 8–10, will be centered around sports. Africa’s leading investment platform has been showcasing the enormous potential of sports as a business on the continent since its launch event in 2018. According to the Business Research Company’s Sports Worldwide Market Report 2023, the global sports industry will be worth $512 billion in 2023 and $624 billion in 2027.
According to PwC’s Global Sports Survey 2023, Africa is predicted to increase 8% over the next three to five years, despite North America holding the highest share of the sports market in 2022.
The main factors driving the continent’s anticipated growth in the sports industry, according to Africa’s Sports Economy: Current Context, Challenges, and Opportunities report (French only) from the African Sports & Creative Institute (ASCI), are the continent’s young population and the rise of internationally successful athletes in some sports, including football, basketball, and boxing. With 70% of its population under 30, the continent is home to the youngest people.
Sports offer fantastic chances for career advancement, job acquisition, and entrepreneurship.
According to KPMG statistics, almost 500 African players are now under contract with eleven prestigious European football leagues, demonstrating how Africa has emerged as a critical talent pool for these teams.
The heightened interest in African talent is driving businesses across the continent to establish projects and systems to make money from the sports sector. According to Ndeye Diarra of Silverbacks Holdings, a venture capital firm in Mauritius, adopting sports business methods might draw in companies willing to invest in African talent (How We Made It in Africa).
“Our vision should be to support teams here in Africa.” Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors and head of the non-profit Giants of Africa Foundation, advocated during the 2022 Africa Investment Forum Market Days that sports are the next great thing in Africa. He referred to sports as the best environment for generating employment and enhancing the standard of living for young Africans.
Ujiri gave the Toronto Raptors as an example: “Take Scotiabank Arena, the 20,000-seat Arena of the Toronto Raptors: A ten-year agreement for $800 million gives the Toronto Raptors the right to have Scotiabank emblazone our stadium with their brand. For simply the name rights, $800 million Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, recently signed a similar agreement with the Bank of Kigali for Kigali Arena. Imagine the following scenario: you call Scotiabank Arena to schedule an event, and they tell you that you won’t be able to get a date for the next two years. How come? Because the Arena is completely reserved for events like conferences, concerts, circuses, and basketball games in addition to them.”
Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors, is the busiest sports and concert venue in Canada. Scotiabank has paid $800 million for the exclusive right to name the Arena. © Tom Pandi/Billboard.com
Through his Giants of Africa Foundation, Ujiri has promoted funding for youth development and sports infrastructure. The organization employs top-notch facilities, gear, and instructors to spread basketball throughout the continent to educate and improve the lives of young Africans.
Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank Group, is pictured sixth from left, with eight-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Fame Congolese-American basketball player Dikembe Mutombo (7th) and Masai Ujiri, the president of the Toronto Raptors and founder of the Giants of Africa, in the tenth position. Didier Drogba, the legendary captain of the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire and former star of Chelsea Football Club, stands in the eleventh position.
Earlier in 2022, the Giants of Africa Foundation launched a state-of-the-art sports facility at the Bingerville Boys Orphanage on the outskirts of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, thanks to Masai Ujiri, the legendary captain of the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire, and former Chelsea Football Club star Didier Drogba. Additionally, eight-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Fame Congolese-American basketball player Dikembe Mutombo inaugurated the facility. The charity teaches and improves the lives of African youngsters via basketball. The company works to promote basketball in Africa by offering top-notch facilities, athletic equipment, and coaches. It also provides several basketball camps to inspire young Africans to dream big, which helps impoverished kids and young people.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, states that “investments like Giants of Africa are important seeds planted for the betterment of the future of young people in Côte d’Ivoire and Africa.”
Drogba highlights the enormous potential and life-changing potential of sports. “I recognize myself in all these children, all from modest backgrounds; sport, and soccer in particular, have enabled me to build the career that is mine,” he stated. “Sport teaches us valuable life lessons. It’s not only about people chasing balls; it also tests our mental faculties. It’s critical to educate yourself and develop the ability to understand contracts. Big Brother Masai, President Adesina, and Big Brother Dikembe are all here as symbols of achievement; they are role models for you young people.”
Rwanda offers a remarkable illustration of how to effectively combine the potential and strength of sports and tourism simultaneously. The German Bundesliga football team Bayern Munich and the Rwanda Development Board reached an agreement in 2023 for a five-year collaboration in football development and tourist marketing. This agreement comes after previous collaborations with the Basketball Africa League (BAL), Paris Saint-Germain of France Ligue 1, and Arsenal of the English Premier League.
Additionally, Rwanda has made significant investments in sporting facilities, such as the Bank of Kigali (BK) Arena, which is home to the national basketball league and is a popular venue for conferences, concerts, and other significant events. This attitude toward sports encourages travel and sets Rwanda up to become an influential center for business, entertainment, and sports events.
The Kigali Arena, constructed in 2019, was renamed the BK Arena in 2022 following a six-year, $8 million sponsorship agreement with the Bank of Kigali. This agreement is the most significant arena naming-rights arrangement on the African continent.
Ujiri began constructing an urban development project in Kigali in August 2023, positioning it as a focus for sports, culture, and social interactions for the nation’s growing middle class. Zaria Court is anticipated to open in early 2025, close to the BK Arena. The project is “centered around an urban hospitality hub that reuses existing buildings and features restaurants, a rooftop lounge, a gym, wellness spaces, co-working spaces, and a podcast studio.” This is how the press release describes the idea. A multipurpose court in the center of the property will host athletic events, festivals, concerts, markets, and other activities.” It is anticipated to be the first of several Zaria courts to be constructed all over the continent.
Ujiri says, “This project…shows that sports can act as a catalyst for neighborhoods and for nations–jobs, businesses, and whole economies can benefit from the presence of these spaces.”
Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, was also present for the groundbreaking event. “There is a lot of potential,” he stated. In actuality, it has no limits. Tourism, the economy, and infrastructure all benefit from this investment. The effect is far more than what is visible to the naked eye.”
At the conference Moving Sports Forward in 2022, Ujiri and President Kagame were joined by Chinelo Anohu, Senior Director of the Africa Investment Conference. The emphasis on sports as a business, according to Anohu, is appropriate. She emphasized the significance of funding sports along the whole value chain and the role sports can play in fostering much-needed social cohesion on the continent.
“During the Moving Sports Forward Forum in Kigali in June 2022, Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu (second right) stated, “The Africa Investment Forum is working with governments and the private sector to promote sports as a catalyst for business.”
She said the Africa Investment Forum promoted sports as a business accelerator by collaborating with governments and the private sector. She emphasized establishing investment-friendly policies, such as appropriate legislative frameworks, tax breaks, and incentives, to foster an enabling environment.
The Africa Investment Forum Market Days in Marrakech, Morocco, November 8–10, 2023, will link investors with viable agreements in the sports and creative industries. Unlocking Africa’s value chains is the topic. Renewable energy, agribusiness (particularly in special agro-industrial processing zones), and the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles are some of the other industries that will be showcased.
The Africa Investment Forum offers a singular venue for converting Africa’s commercial potential into actualized investments by bringing partners together to execute transactions.
The African Development Bank Group, Africa50, Africa Finance Corporation, Afreximbank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and Trade and Development Bank are the eight founding partners of the Africa Investment Forum.