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KDF Scores a Goal: Turning Kenya’s Stadium Dreams into Reality


Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to upgrade 4 stadiums for 2027 AFCON co-hosted by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, marking the CECAFA region return after 47 years.


That is the upgrading of Nyayo, Kasarani stadiums, and Kip Keino Stadium in Eldoret as well as constructing a new 50,000 seater Stadium in Jamhuri grounds on Ngong road dubbed Talanta Sports City. This is after the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports officially handed over the renovation duties to the KDF.

“The ambitious plan includes building the Talanta Sports Complex (Jamhuri, Nairobi) and extensive renovations of Nyayo National Stadium, Moi International Sports Centre – Kasarani, and Kipchoge Keino Stadium,” the Cabinet dispatch read in part. The Cabinet further said in the approval that; “The Renovation efforts for Moi International Sports Centre – Kasarani, Nyayo National Stadium, and Kipchoge Keino Stadia will include pitch rehabilitation, enhanced facilities, ICT infrastructure and canopy installation.” Observers described the Cabinet’s move as a glimmer of hope in the long journey to build modern stadia.

How Nyayo Stadium will look once renovations are complete. Photo: SPORTS KENYA

However, the main question lingering on Kenyans’ minds is whether the renovations will be completed in due time. Remember, Kenya lost the rights to host the 1996 AFCON edition and the 2018 African Championship (CHAN) due to a lack of stadia readiness and lack of enough facilities respectively. Well, Kenyans and East Africans need to worry not.

The decision to entrust KDF with the renovations and construction of these stadia stems from their remarkable achievement in constructing the 10,000-seater Ulinzi Sports Complex in 18 months. A great achievement in the eyes of many. The dusty and murram track at Lang’ata Barracks which had produced world records and titles among other allocades for many years finally had a new modern and international look.

A bird’ s-eye view of the Ulinzi Sports Complex at Lang’ata Barracks in Nairobi on April 13, 2022. | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Looking at this ultra-modern stadium is a proud moment for me,” said Paul Tergat, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) president. The sports complex is made up of a main stadium, an indoor arena, outdoor courts for basketball, tennis, volleyball, handball, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a recreational nature trail.

The move is seen as a contrast to the Kenya Kwanza government which had accused former President Uhuru Kenyatta of militarising government institutions. Ababu explained that this is because the KDF is a unit that has been tried and tested and can be trusted to deliver the facilities in a timely and effective way.

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But what do we know about KDF’s role in infrastructure development in Kenya and East Africa? For starters, during Uhuru’s tenure, more than ten officials from the military and National Intelligence Service (NIS) joined the civil service. It also saw the transfer of functions from the Nairobi county government to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) led by Major General Mohamed Badi. KDF also took charge of renovating the Thika-Nanyuki meter gauge railway, Nairobi-Kisumu railway lines, and the port of Kisumu. The former President also transferred the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) to the Defense Ministry from the State Department of Agriculture.  

Although these are not traditional military tasks, civilian and military leaders say the country needs the KDF’s manpower and expertise. “Security and development are intrinsically related. They are two sides of the same coin,” Former Chief of the KDF Gen. Robert Kibochi told the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

In September 2020, then-President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the KDF the authority to begin running the KMC. The national slaughtering and meat processing company had been out of operation due to equipment failures, corruption, and other problems, but under KDF leadership it reopened in May 2021. “The sector is the source of livelihood for millions of Kenyans and the market forces have not lived up to our expectations, especially in times of drought and, therefore, it was necessary to get the government involved,” Kenyatta said.

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Kibochi said the KDF brought in experts such as engineers, veterinarians, and others to help run the plant. The new management has ensured that farmers are paid promptly for their livestock in contrast to the past when they sometimes waited years to receive payment. Kibochi said the goal is not to militarize civilian tasks but rather to make use of the military’s knowledge and efficiency to get results and save taxpayers’ money. “We have huge expertise in almost all areas — engineering, medicine — to name but a few,” Kibochi said. “Why not use the knowledge to help our country?”

In July 2021, KDF troops working under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) handed over four newly built classrooms and a sports stadium to the local administration in Ras Kamboni, Somalia. Ras Kamboni Primary School Head Teacher Mr. Abdi Harun thanked KDF for the development noting that pupils were excited to be inside a classroom with desks. He said, “These classrooms will provide a conducive environment for learning. Our teachers are happy that this development will assist our pupils to learn like the rest of their counterparts all over the world.”

The newly built classrooms |KENYA DEFENCE FORCES


The Sports Stadium together with the four classrooms were built by KDF troops under its Civil Military Cooperation obligations to improve the livelihoods of locals in the area. Local youths welcomed the gesture promising to work hand in hand with both the local security agencies and KDF under AMISOM in combating criminal and terror activities.

Like it or not the above achievements need commendations and a much wider recognition from everyone. If it takes KDF to complete the renovations and the establishment of a new stadium two years ahead of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) inspection in 2025 then so be it. Over the years our stadiums have suffered neglect and mismanagement. The officials and respective institutions tasked with these responsibilities have only been interested in self-aggrandizement. Looting money meant for the development of these stadiums and facing no prosecution. Remember the Jubilee Government campaign pledge in 2013 to construct 10 new stadiums across the country. It’s been 10 years since and there’s nothing to show for it. Just empty promises that yield nothing in return.

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As a country, it’s time to up our game so that future generations can put these facilities to use and fly the Kenyan flag as high as possible. Kudos KDF for the work done. Now time to build our stadiums.


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