“Unlocking Africa’s Sports Investment Potential: Following in the NBA’s Footsteps”

By September 13, 2023 Articles

Tyson Fury to Ngannou “Everyone said he was an idiot for walking away from the UFC and now all of a sudden, he’s a genius, isn’t he? The guy’s about to make $10m…

The explosion of the Womens game. Gerard Pique’s Kings League. The Saudi Pro League, Tyson Fury v Ngannou, and now Marc Lasry. In fact Marc Lasry’s statement came first as to the idea of penning this article.

In case you missed it –

Marc Lasry’s statement, “I think Africa today is where the NBA was 20 years ago,” not only captures the budding potential of African basketball but also highlights the broader opportunity to invest in sports across the continent. Africa is currently experiencing a sports renaissance, and visionary investors can seize the moment to make a significant impact while reaping the rewards.

What is the key component? Innovation! Evolution!

Quote on Instagram via @commongoalorg –

“Who should clubs ‘actually’ belong to?”

The English case study “In England’s top flight, all 20 clubs that will take part in the 23/24 season are privately owned.”

Football for the fans? “But, is a football club the same as any other business? Should it be an asset to be bought and sold without proper community consultation?’

The state of play “In England’s top flight, club ownership is rightfully under the microscope with one of the England’s biggest clubs among those on the forefront of this debate.

Indebted “In 2005, Manchester United was controversially purchased and – according to the fans – has since been allowed to regress due to perceived mismanagement. And now, with a prospective sale on the horizon, another issue has once again been thrust into the media spot light – ‘sportwashing’”

From top to bottom “Problematic ownership isn’t an issue exclusive to the top tier. From Aldershot to Bury, there’s an alarming list of historic clubs that have fallen foul to mismanagement and ceased to exist in the way their communities once knew.”

Just as some may say we’re running out of space on earth, or land in which to build homes. We need new land, or a new landscape, and Africa is where it’s at!

With that said, let’s look at the African sports landscape with reference to Marc Lasry’s comments

Africa’s sports landscape has evolved significantly in recent years. While football has historically dominated the scene, other sports, including basketball, have been gaining ground. The emergence of homegrown talent, international exposure through events like the Basketball Africa League (BAL), and increased investment in sports infrastructure has set the stage for Africa to become a sports powerhouse.

1. Developing Talent Pool

Africa boasts a young and rapidly growing population, which is a goldmine for sports talent. Similar to the NBA’s emergence in the United States two decades ago, Africa is now witnessing the rise of talented athletes across various sports. As an investor, this presents a unique opportunity to support and nurture these young talents through academies, coaching programs, and scouting initiatives.

2. Infrastructure and Facilities

Investing in sports infrastructure, such as stadiums, training centres, and sports academies, is crucial to the growth of any sports ecosystem. Africa’s sports infrastructure is undergoing significant improvement, but there is still a vast room for expansion and modernization. Private investors can play a pivotal role in developing these facilities, creating opportunities for athletes to train and compete at the highest level.

3. Broadcasting and Media Rights

The African sports market represents an untapped resource for broadcasting and media companies. As sports gain popularity and professional leagues develop, there is a growing demand for sports content. Investing in broadcasting rights and digital platforms can provide a direct route to the growing African sports fan base, which will not only increase the visibility of African sports but also generate revenue.

4. Sponsorship and Merchandising

Similar to the early days of the NBA, African sports leagues and teams offer opportunities for sponsorships and merchandising. Brand partnerships can boost the visibility of sports events and organizations, while merchandising can tap into the passionate fan base, creating revenue streams for investors.

5. Community Engagement and Grassroots Development

Investors can make a meaningful impact by engaging with local communities and promoting grassroots sports development. The NBA has excelled in this regard with initiatives like Basketball Without Borders (BWB). Supporting such programs not only nurtures talent but also fosters goodwill and positive public relations.

6. Economic Growth and Social Impact

Investing in sports in Africa isn’t just about financial returns. It’s also about contributing to economic growth and social development. Sports can create jobs, stimulate tourism, and inspire the youth, serving as a catalyst for broader societal improvements.

Marc Lasry’s insightful comparison between Africa’s sports scene and the NBA of two decades ago should not be underestimated. Africa’s sports ecosystem is on the cusp of transformation, offering immense opportunities for visionary investors who recognize its potential.

Let’s take it back to the beginning of the article. The explosion of the Womens game. Gerard Pique’s Kings League (Football in a different format). The Saudi Pro League, and Tyson Fury v Ngannou. Oh, and The MLS and Leo Messi. What we’re seeing is the evolution of sports – a new layer – a new dimension – another tier to ownership.

By investing in talent development, infrastructure, media rights, sponsorships, and community engagement, investors can contribute to the growth of sports in Africa while reaping the benefits of a burgeoning sports market. Just as the NBA’s expansion became a global phenomenon, African sports have the potential to captivate audiences worldwide, making this a truly exciting time to invest in sports on the continent. It’s not just an investment in sports; it’s an investment in Africa’s bright and promising future.

Flipping it back to Football. With the African Football League, how would you like to see sports evolve in Africa?

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Written by Andrew Mensah-Twumasi @andrewmensahjr (IG/Twitter)


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