Op-Ed: How rugby is investing in Africa’s future


By Gabriela Ramos and Herbert Mensah

With a current population of over 1.4 billion, Africa is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. By 2030, young Africans are projected to constitute 42 percent of the world’s youth. Looking ahead, by 2100, nearly half of the world’s children will be African, and Africa will then constitute 40% of the global population. This demographic transformation presents an unprecedented opportunity for the continent and the world.

In a future where Africa’s youth will constitute the majority of the global youth population, it is essential to recognize that the path of international sports bodies will be inextricably linked to Africa. With a rapidly expanding fan base, a growing pool of talented athletes, and a substantial TV audience, Africa becomes a focal point for the future of sports.

Rugby, with its core values of integrity, respect, solidarity, passion, and discipline, stands as a powerful catalyst for character development. These values extend far beyond the playing field, instilling life skills that are essential for young people as they navigate life’s challenges. Integrity on the pitch translates to honesty in life’s challenges, respect in victory and defeat fosters empathy in relationships, and solidarity in teamwork becomes community service, cultivating a spirit for the common good. South Africa, a triumphant four-time rugby world champion, has consistently exemplified these values, with its current captain Siya Kolisi standing as a role model for the entire African continent.

Empowering African youth through rugby is not just about playing a fun sport; it’s about equipping them with the tools they need to drive continental growth and reach their fullest potential. Every young rugby player has the potential to be a future leader, an agent of positive change, and an ambassador for unity. By nurturing their talents and investing in their development, we set in motion a journey that contributes not only to the advancement of rugby across Africa but also to the progress of our societies at large.

Rugby is actively implemented in 39 countries across the continent, and Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia are among the six emerging nations that are enjoying strong growth in rugby globally, according to data published in September by World Rugby.

The growth of rugby in Africa, coupled with the sport’s rising global popularity, creates a promising economic ecosystem and offers immense potential to drive human development and livelihoods. Beyond its cultural and sporting importance, the rugby industry offers diverse opportunities for revenue generation, including sponsorships, broadcasting deals, merchandise sales, and event hosting.

These economic benefits extend to ancillary industries, such as sports tourism and sports technology, attracting international visitors, fostering tech startups, and driving infrastructural development. Additionally, investments in youth development, infrastructure, and training programs can lead to job creation, and skills development, contributing to economic growth and community well-being. This highlights rugby’s significant role in advancing economic development across Africa. In harnessing the potential of rugby, Africa can not only foster sporting excellence but also stimulate economic advancement and social progress on the continent.

However, this transformative journey requires commitment and investment. African governments, development agencies, and international sports governing bodies, such as World Rugby, need to recognise the pivotal role that rugby can play.

It is a responsibility we owe to the future of our continent and the world, and Rugby Africa, the continental governing body of rugby in Africa, is eager to collaborate with global stakeholders to strengthen the rugby value chain on the continent. Together, we aim to leverage the attributes of rugby in addressing social challenges and enhancing individual and community well-being.

Gabriela Ramos is the assistant director-general for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, while Herbert Mensah is president of Rugby Africa

We are Africa’s number one online sports community created by true fans.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:




More like this