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‘We Have All the Spor...

‘We Have All the Sport Talent, We Need Investment – Rugby Africa President pushes for more investment in sports on the continent

Rugby Africa President, Herbert Mensah, has called for more investment to be made into sports related issues on the African continent of 1.4 billion people.

Herbert Mensah, who was invited to discuss the business of sports in a one-to-one fireside chat live at the Africa investment forum 2023 in Marrakech Morocco, explained that Africa has the best sports talent in the world but lacks investment and therefore calls on the controllers of capital on the content to change their mindset towards investment in sports.

Herbert Mensah speaking at the Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Morocco

“I can’t help but say we are the chosen ones. We come from a continent that is blessed with something that no other continent has. We really are. I grew up as a kid in Ghana. They would say, what do you have? People would raise their hands and say we have gold, we have cocoa, we have timber, we have whatever else and then they’d feel happy and sit down”.

He added, “And I guess that narrative has continued over rhetoric years. The question is do we have the gold refineries? Do we have the oil refineries? Do we have the chocolate factories? What do we have? If we have all the greatness and the greatness is taken away from the continent and then reimposed, surely that does not say as much as it should do for us in terms of development and growth”.

Herbert Mensah reiterated the greatness of Africa in the arena of global sportsmanship “From a  sports perspective, I have grown up as a sports man in a previous life when I was younger, but I have seen a situation whereby the greatest athletes of the world are either Africans or of African descent…and when we look at the input of what is required and I sit here as president of Rugby Africa, with a budget of about $USD 2M a year with 32 rugby playing nations as a continent when other individual countries in Europe get as much as $USD 5M in a year and yet it is that we in Africa can still compete and to become World Rugby Champions.”

“I am proudly African, and I look at this business of sports and I say sometimes we need to readdress ourselves…Do we have the products? Yes, we have the best athletes. Is it what the global market is interested in? Yes. Surely this must be the way that we look at ourselves differently in order to invest in ourselves. We must start asking what it is that we Africans can do for Africa in terms of our own investment models.

Citing the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France which brought in revenue of about 2.4 billion euros, The Rugby Africa President called for a marriage between government, capital and labor, and the need to understand that investment in sports does not compromise the ability to make money.

Herbert Mensah, President of Rugby Africa in a handshake with Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Herbert Mensah meetings on the side of the business forum with business leaders including the President of the Africa Development Bank Akinwumi A. Adesina.

The Africa Investment Forum is championed by the African development Bank and seven other founding partners including Africa50, Africa finance corporation, Afreximbank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank and Trade and Development Bank. The forum is Africa’s investment market place to accelerate transactions to close Africa’s investment gaps.

Herbert Mensah, President of Rugby Africa in a meeting with Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the Africa Development Bank

Watch full interview with Yvonne Ndebele, a former BBC and Al Jazeera Tv correspondent and journalist in Marrakech, Morocco.