By Simon Kaheru
UGANDA! This might be coming to your attention a bit late, but you have a whole month to go, so don’t say nobody mentioned it. YOU are hosting the ICC World Cricket League Division 3 Tournament right here in Kampala NEXT MONTH for TEN DAYS.
The ICC is the International Cricket Council and is the world’s governing body of the game or sport called Cricket.
According to http://www.topendsports.com Cricket is the world’s number two (2) sport, with an estimated 2.5billion fans mostly in Asia, Australia and the UK (and Uganda!), after soccer with an estimated 3.5billion fans in Europe, Africa, Asia and America. The site http://www.mostpopularsports.net lists Cricket as the world’s number three (3) sport. They calculate this by analysing website visitor traffic using the Alexa traffic ranks of over 300 top sports websites.
http://www.mostpopularsports.net figures that Cricket is the most popular sport in five (5) countries with a combined population of more than 1.4billion people, and one of the top three (3) in ten countries with a combined population of 3.6billion people.
So, nationally, our hosting the ICC World Cricket League Division 3 Tournament means we are likely to be the focus of attention for nearly half the population of the entire world for TEN RUNNING DAYS.
The economists should have some formula that works out, for instance, what we stand to benefit if just 1% of those 3.6billion people choose to visit Uganda as tourists. That would be 36million tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism figures from 2015 estimate that a tourist injects about US$132 dollars into the country every day on a six-day visit. That means that we could earn US$4.75billion A DAY from those tourists if they all came in at once – though it would be a tight fit within the national creases.
But at least you see the picture?
If we used this opportunity right and got those 36million tourists (1% of people watching the Tournament) to visit over a period of a year, then Uganda would earn US$1.8billion in visa fees alone at US$50 per visa. Add to that the money paid in by the airlines bringing them, the 36million taxi rides, 36 million Rolexes and empoombo sold…
Like that, like that.
So we have many opportunities right here, right now.
Mind you, we had these same opportunities right here in Kampala back in 2014 when Uganda was just about to host the same Tournament of that year.
But, sadly, our right to host got cancelled at the last minute and the tournament was moved to Malaysia. See, in September of 2014, just a month before the Tournament was set to launch, the Police here announced that they had “seized explosives from a suspected Islamist militant cell”.
We were out for a duck.
Commendable work at securing the nation, of course, and we applauded. The BBC reported, at that time back then in 2014 (I have to stress this in case someone makes a mistake) that those al-Shabaab chaps were planning an attack. This was after a US Embassy warning that there were likely to be revenge attacks after an air strike in Somalia that killed al-Shabaab boss, Ahmed Abdi Godane.
That opportunity went up in smoke – which was better than buildings and people doing so, of course, so nobody is really complaining about the Police doing its work.
But this time round we need to grip our bats tightly and swing the opportunity for a century of national benefits that will stop us complaining about how tight the economy is.
The number of people coming in for the Tournament itself is not massive in a way that will constitute the end-all of this opportunity. There are only 112 team players coming in and possibly not as many officials. I would be pleasantly surprised if more than ten times that number came in to watch the games live at the venues.
But those who will be tuning in on TV and reading the newspapers? Millions upon millions. There are cricket-crazy countries like India and Pakistan where the sport is almost a religion; those two countries alone account for a fifth of the world’s population and they WILL tune in to watch.
If we focus our tourism and investment promotion efforts on just those two countries for the next one month and during the tournament then our economic umpires will be shouting “Howzat?!” all the way to the bank.
And now, if you don’t know what that word means, start off by reading up on your cricket terms and terminologies – because 3.6billion people worldwide will be more likely to find your website or order for your product if you speak their language.
The ICC has bowled well; it’s up to us to bat our way right down the order and collect all runs and extras along the way. This is not the time for dead balls or maidens, people! It is time for Cricket!