Bidders sought to upgrade Independence Stadium

Ogone Tlhage
Deputy sports minister Emma Kantema-Gaomas says the government will announce a successful bidder to refurbish the Independence Stadium before April 2024 to enable it to comply with the regulations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The refurbishment comes at a time when Namibia’s national football teams, the Brave Warriors and Brave Gladiators, have to ply their trade in neighbouring South Africa due to the non-compliance of the stadium, as it cannot host international football matches.
The situation is exacerbated by the Sam Nujoma Stadium, which has been deemed equally ineligible to host international fixtures.
A lack of maintenance and over-utilisation of the country’s biggest stadium led to it being declared unfit for hosting flagship sporting events.
Listing reasons for the ambitious bid cut-off date, Kantema-Gaomas said the government had set the procurement bid in such a way as to ensure it will be speedily awarded.
“We have programmed the deliverables so that the procurement process for a contractor can start before April 2024,” she said.
According to her, the CAF stadium regulations prescribe detailed technical requirements to be met for each category of the stadium, including pitch and surrounding areas, facilities for teams and CAF officials, medical areas, spectator-related sections, VIP and hospitality areas, media sections and training facilities.
Home matches
“The ministry decided to renovate and upgrade the Independence Stadium to Category 3 to enable both the senior men’s and women’s national teams, including club sides, to play their CAF and International Association Football Federation (Fifa) home matches in Namibia,” Kantema-Goamas said.
“We made it a requirement, as part of this tender, for the stadium to be designed in such a way that it is upgradeable to Category 4 in the future so that Namibia can host CAF competitions only allowed in a Category 4 stadium,” she added.
“The ministry understands and appreciates the interest of the football-loving public; however, we are committed to doing things right and delivering a stadium all of us will be proud of,” she added.
Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi recently said the government had earmarked N$50 million for the stadium upgrade during the 2022/2023 fiscal year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the widespread misconception that the government has not prioritised funding sports activities; hence, our national team continues to play international matches on foreign soil,” he said during the tabling of the mid-term budget last Tuesday.
In 2020, then sports minister Erastus Uutoni sounded the alarm over the condition of the country’s flagship stadium, owing to concerns over its suitability to host international sporting events.
Uutoni’s comments came at a time when neighbouring Zimbabwe found itself at the short end of CAF’s requirements.
“Our stadiums are not in the best of condition, and to be honest, I don’t want to preempt what verdict CAF inspectors will give us next month, but we will sit down with them [CAF] and decide on the way forward based on whatever they tell us," he said at the time.
"For now, I can’t say if we will face a ban from hosting international matches or not because it is beyond my judgment. But we remain ready for whatever CAF has to say or propose to us as a country."