JUST days after Zambia expressed interest in staging the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament, Cabinet has approved the building of a 35,000-capacity stadium in Livingstone.
And Government will next week appoint an inter-ministerial committee that would look at the social impact of Zambia hosting the 2019 AFCON tournament.
Sport and Youth Minister, Chishimba Kambwili said Cabinet approved the construction of the Livingstone stadium last week and that tenders for the 25,000-seater Mongu stadium were opened.
He said the ministry had since written to the Ministry of Works and Supply to go ahead with the tendering process.
In an interview in Luanshya, Kambwili said the stadium site had already been identified about five kilometres outside Zambia's tourist capital, Livingstone on the Lusaka Road and that KR3 million had been budgeted for the clearing of the site.
He said Sports Permanent Secretary, Agnes Musunga would mobilise the funds which the Rural Roads Unit (RRU) would use for clearance of the stadium site.
Kambwili said the KR3 million would be enough for the clearing of Livingstone and Mongu stadium sites as the costs would be mainly on fuel for the machinery and food for the workers.
On the Mongu stadium, whose tenders close this Friday, March 1, Kambwili said Government had invited four international companies to give appropriate designs and buildings for the structure.
The four international firms would come up with quotations for the design and building.
Kambwili, however, emphasised that the construction of the two stadia was not tied to the 2019 AFCON hosting but was part of Government's Sixth National Development Plan.
"Zambia is not building for the sake of AFCON but this is part of Government's infrastructural development. It's in our Sixth National Development Plan," he said.
Kambwili said by 2019, Zambia would be boasting of four high-quality stadia in Ndola, Lusaka, Livingstone and Mongu.
He also said an inter-ministerial committee to look at the gains and expenditure for Zambia to stage the 2019 AFCON would be appointed soon.
Once the inter-ministerial team finalises its work, Kambwili said the bidding for the AFCON would be presented before Cabinet for possible approval.
The minister said Government would also get a social impact report from South Africa who organised the just-ended AFCON.
He said he had already written to President Michael Sata informing him about the interest in hosting Africa's premier football showpiece.
Kambwili also stated that he had received favourable responses from fellow Cabinet ministers over the bidding for the AFCON.
He said Zambia had been participating at the AFCON for a long time, having reaching the finals three times and winning the event once and that there was now need to show consistency by hosting the continental championship.
Apart from providing entertainment, the minister said hosting of the AFCON would also bring the much needed foreign exchange to the nation and that organising such an event also had the potential of attracting investment to Zambia.
"We want people to fly to Zambia to watch football and also see our tourism potential. This will in turn bring in more forex and also may attract potential investors after seeing our conducive environment for business," he said.
Government has officially written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to express the nation's interest in hosting the 2019 AFCON finals.
Kambwili also said at the 2013 AFCON finals in South Africa, he with FAZ president, Kalusha Bwalya met CAF president, Issa Hayatou and underscored Zambia's seriousness in staging the tournament.
Government will also be sending some people to check and learn from countries that have staged the AFCON before.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Algeria and Liberia are some of the countries interested in hosting the 2019 event.