Thursday, January 27, 2005

Kenyan Olympic Bid

It was recently announced that Kenya would be bidding to host the 2016 Olympic games, this would be the first time - if it happens - that an African country would have hosted the Olympics. I am all for giving Africa a chance to host world class events, but I do not believe Kenya would be the right country for it. Kenya has not hosted a world class sporting event in a long time (I believe since the All Africa games in the late 80's) and hosting the olympics is an enormous undertaking. Just ask the Greeks, they spent billions ($15.23 billion excluding infastructure expenditure) on the 2004 event, were bedeviled by delays and other problems and according to the mayor of Athens and head of the organizing committee, Greece is likely to be saddled with debt, for the forseeable future.

In Kenya we are already in a financial crunch, we can not afford to pay our teachers, police and other civil servants a decent wage, we have to rely on foreign governments to balance our budget and spend an estimated 33% of our budget servicing old debts. How then can we seriously be considering a bid for the olympics? Should we not be focusing on fully funding free primary education? or investing in our transport and communication infastructure? What is most ironic, is that we announced our bid for the 2016 games, which is one year after we are menat to have achieved our Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), and the announcement came a couple of days before British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, announced that Africa is unlikely to meet its MDGs by a wooping 100 years. How misplaced can our priorities be?

Let us keep our eye on the ball. Development of our country should be our primary, secondary and tertiary goal. We should not be distracted by nonsensicle and futile white elephant projects.


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