Investing in Sports in Africa: Priorities for Development

Sports development and marketing in general have been in a stagnant state in the continent with very little improvement. The state of sports in the continent is way different from what it used to be five years ago. This is not to say that it does not still need a continuous overhaul, lots of planning, patience, strategic and beneficial partnerships for increased significant improvement to continue to take place.


It has been said over time, that Africa as a continent has more pressing needs or issues to address than the development of a sports industry. A good example; Didier Drogba, a recently retired football player for Cote D’Ivoire, co-owns a Football Club in the second tier of American football. You may ask why he did not invest that money in a club in Africa. There are a few answers to that question, firstly it is much easier to run a football club in America even though soccer would be like the third or fourth sport when it comes to ranking in terms of popularity and profitability.

Fig 1: Phoenix Rising, Didier Drogba’s Football Club source:

Secondly the process of acquiring a club is transparent compared to what is attainable here in Africa. The lines in between are a bit blurry to say the least and it can be discouraging. Lastly, returns on investment from such a project in Africa is not very guaranteed. His club does advertisements for quite a number of brands, has support from the local government and they also earn money from television rights. These are just some of the few ways in which he can get profit from investing money in a football club in that region. However, Africa as a whole is beginning to accept that sports can be part of the sector that develops the region and boosts the economy and now, there is a silver lining.


Multichoice Africa has been doing a tremendous job, the organization is fully invested in the development of sports in regions which although, it runs as a business. It is one of the major businesses of Naspers, a company with Dutch background whose headquarters is in South Africa.

Fig 2: Multichoice Africa source: Tech Central, South Africa (2017)

Supersport, a subsidiary of Multichoice Africa, provides a platform for local sporting content to be aired in its regions. Various sporting events such as football, rugby, cricket and boxing to name a few are aired on channels on a daily basis giving potential investors a glimpse of what sports has to offer and how they can create strategic partnerships that would be beneficial to both the sports and the businesses/individuals investing in it.

Fig 3: Live Rugby match between Argentina and South Africa source: Supersport Africa (2018)

Apart from creating a platform for sporting content to be aired, Multichoice is also the major sponsor of the youth football league in South Africa owns one of the football clubs in the South African premier league and sponsors a boxing competition called GoTv Boxing Night in Nigeria. The latter is just one of the company’s corporate social responsibility activities in Nigeria.

Fig 4: Uganda’s Kakembo lands a straight jab on Usman ‘Skoro’ of Nigeria source: Vanguard (2016)

Undeniably, it has not really been profitable to invest in sports in Africa, but the opportunities are there and the government in these countries are beginning to see the potential. At the moment, the government is beginning to see the impact of sports coupled with how interested the people are and how far they are willing to go in participating both directly and indirectly. It has been identified as one of the major tools for socio-economic change and the zeal of the people will ensure continuous involvement which will in turn attract investors in this region.


A recent phenomenon was what Nike did with the Nigerian super eagles ahead of the World Cup in Russia. It was not even about the sport but re-branding the team by creating a unique collection of kit which generated revenue for both the team and Nike.

The jersey was used as a tool of engagement for sport fans in Africa and around the world. Money was made by investing parties, fans were excited and overall win-win situation for all. The Nigerian World Cup jersey sold out after a record 3 million people try to pre-order it from Nike prior to the beginning of the world cup (CNBC 2018).

The World Cup is long gone but the kit still generates revenue for both Nike and the Nigerian Football Association.


Fig 5: The Nigerian jersey that broke the internet earlier this year source: Complete Sports (2018)

The government and sport bodies must strategize, reach out to organizations who are experts in this filed for help in building a sports industry that is profitable, conducive and well standardised and the investments will come calling. There is no doubt that sports could play a critical role in attaining peace, development and stability.


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