Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised the country will be ready to host the 2023 African Games after cutting the first sod on the $145 million (£105 million/€122 million) sports complex being built for the event in Ghana.
The main feature of the complex at Borteyman will be a 1,000-capacity aquatics centre, featuring a 10-lane competition and eight-lane warm-up pool.
A multi-purpose sports hall with a capacity of 10,000 will also be built and used to stage badminton, basketball, boxing, table tennis and weightlifting, along with a 500-seat temporary dome to host handball, judo, karate, taekwondo and volleyball.
A tennis centre with five courts, including a 1,000-capacity centre court, a six-lane warm-up athletics track, and a FIFA standard football training field are also due to be included as part of the new complex.
Akufo-Addo claimed that hosting the African Games had been an ambition of Ghana since they were first held in 1965.
"It is in light of this that I instructed the Ministry of Youth and Sports, on 8th May 2018, to prepare, bid and win the hosting rights of the 13th African Games," Akufo-Addo said at the special ceremony.
"At the meeting of the African Union’s Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports in Algiers, capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, on Thursday, 25th October 2018, our bid was endorsed, and Ghana was officially declared host of the 13th edition of the Games.
"COVID-19 notwithstanding, I am confident that Ghana will organize the best ever African Games in history.
"With the Government determined to bring back the glory days of Ghanaian sports, in athletics, boxing, football and table tennis, the provision of the requisite infrastructure, to this end is critical if our nation is to regain its pride of place in sports on the continent and in the world.
"Hosting the 13th African Games will afford Ghana the opportunity to address capacity deficiencies, by providing the relevant human resource capacity to run and manage sports in Ghana.
"Most importantly, this will give us state-of-the-art sporting facilities, that will support the development of sports."
COVID-19 has delayed preparations by at least a year and Akufo-Addo revealed that as well as building the new facilities, existing venues in Accra would be upgraded.
Earlier Government plans to construct all the venues on this 100-acre plot of land, released to the Ministry of Youth and Sports by the University of Ghana, including a 50,000-capacity Olympic Stadium to host the Ceremonies, athletics and football, have had to be scrapped due to the pandemic.
"In place of the Olympic Stadium Complex here at Borteyman, the University of Ghana Sports Stadium, which was abandoned during the eight years of NDC (National Democratic Congress) rule from 2009 to 2017, will be upgraded to international standards for some events for the African Games," Akufo-Addo announced.
He claimed that Ghana would avoid the mistake of other countries and not allow the facilities to become white elephants.
"That is why the model we have adopted for this Games is a framework of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the University of Ghana and the University for Development Studies, to be involved in managing and maintaining the facilities to ensure sustainability and continuity," Akufo-Addo announced.
"For us, these are the best legacies for the Games to justify the total investment of $195 million (£141 million/€164 million) and ensure sustainability well into the future.
"I assure the African Union that Ghana is ready, willing and able to host the most successful and most memorable of African Games."
Ghana was awarded the Games in October 2018 and more than 5,000 athletes from over 50 countries are expected to compete.
Final dates and sports are still to be announced for the event.