The Second Session of the Africa Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Sports has officially opened in Accra with President John Agyekum Kufuor urging the delegates to fashion out a common policy framework for development of sports in Africa.
In a speech read on his behalf by Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, the President said “Delegates must identify the challenges that must be confronted in order to mainstream sports into development programmes.
The conference under the theme “harmonising and coordinating sports policies for sustainable development” is being attended by Ministers of Sports from Africa and will deliberate on issues regarding the development of sports on the continent.
The opening ceremony was performed under the chair of Her Excellency, Bience Gawanas, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs and graced by members of the AU Commission and global sports agencies among others.
President Kufuor said “The Conference should pay attention to the role of sports in Africa with regard to economic development, education and health promotion, conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building, social mobilization and national integration.”
The President said the time has come for governments to empower other stakeholders through partnerships with private sector and civil society organizations, bi-lateral development agencies and multi-lateral institutions to share the burden of sports development.
President Kufour underscored the need for appropriate legal and regulatory framework, including supporting infrastructure to achieve the desired goals.
“The continent should begin to invest aggressively in building and restoration of sports infrastructure, training of technical personnel and identification of talents.”
Her Excellency Gawanas expressed optimism that the conference will build on the rich tradition of enthusiasm and commitment to advance the African Sports Movement for the benefit of her development objectives.
She recounted Africa's performance at recent international competitions including the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and noted with concern that some of the African Nations reneged on pledges to use sport as a vehicle for social change and development.
The AU Commissioner for Social Affairs added that the session will mobilise Governments and the African Sports Movement towards achieving the objectives of the Africa Legacy Program as the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in South Africa draws near.
The session which started on Friday, October 10 will end on Tuesday, October 14.
The first session was held in July, 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.