By African business
When the NBA and FIBA planned their inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) back in 2019, seven venues across the continent were chosen as hosts. But when Covid-19 hit, Rwanda took on the sole responsibility of hosting the first competition this year.
Following the tournament’s successful conclusion in May, that decision looks like a smart move. The BAL was broadcast globally and finished without any Covid-19 infections among players following a strict testing regime. Rwanda is hoping to capitalise by advertising itself as one of Africa’s major sports destinations. It is currently bidding to host cycling’s UCI African Road World Championships in 2025, building on its hosting of the annual Tour du Rwanda, and this year hosted international volleyball and basketball tournaments.
Rwanda says that such events boost the local private sector, promote the country as an events and conferences destination and boost the competitiveness of local athletes. But as other former host nations have shown, that requires sustained and coordinated efforts long after the tournament excitement has faded.
Sporting events can be a springboard to economic growth, but only if governments plan well beyond the final whistle.