Sport as a catalyst for national renewal and economic development

Revisiting preparations for the 20th National Sports Festival – Edo 2020



As preparation for the 20th National Sports Festival gets underway, at no other time is it more appropriate and perhaps more expedient to revisit sport’s role in national development bearing in mind that the strategic choices we make have overall bearing on the whole network of value creation in sports, especially for a state like Edo, with its rich history and tradition, as the number one incubator of top athletes in Africa. Potentially, sport could become an important value multiplier for Edo economic system if the right choices are made in a timely manner. What has made sport become an important linkage in the economies of several nations is how much they have embraced technology as an important enabler, to wrap sport as an attractive PRODUCT to take to the market place. The English premier league becoming a global brand or the US NBA’s unique global following both have technology driving them at the back-end. If there is any sector that could help Edo economy gain financial autonomy, it must be sport.

Sport sector accounts for 1.76% of the EU Gross Value Added (GVA = GDP + subsidies (direct, sales) taxes), meaning, it contributes more to the economy of member states than agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined. This is about €175 billion. The direct effects of sport, combined with its multiplier (indirect and induced) effects, added up to 2.98% (€294.36 billion) of overall gross value added in the EU. Sport is employment intensive. It generates more employment per GDP than any other sector. Direct employment in sport in the EU is similar to the number of Denmark’s inhabitants. Growing sport-related economy therefore leads to a more than proportional growth of employment. The national income elasticity of sport in EU is 1.14, which means that if national income rises by 1%, the gross value added related to sport rises by 1.14%. Sport’s contribution to the circular economy relative to other sectors therefore grows bigger and faster.

Sport has the economic characteristics of a luxury good, with an income elasticity above 1. This implies that sport production and services will grow faster in lower income countries than in higher income countries. It thus helps reduce economic imbalances in developing countries. Sports products and services can be found in many other sectors, e.g. in tourism, insurance, legal consultancy, and many more. This means that sport can help specific niche sectors to develop, depending on the characteristics of sport demand and supply in a specific geographical location. For Edo, it could be the perfect revenue generator for its nascent tourism industry, an industry that has the potential to spark accelerated economic growth for the whole hemisphere because of the rich history and tradition behind the unique culture of Edo people.


Intermediate goods and services required in the sporting industry can be a great multiplier in the construction industry and in sectors related to tourism (hotels, air transport, etc), an important multiplier in the whole network of value creation across the economy. Sports development can affect the wage rate and regional coefficient across a broad range of value-adding activities if the investments are strategically targeted at growth niches.

A good example is how technology has helped England to develop its football league into a global brand. In England, pay television for football matches has grown into a significant economic activity.

All the premier league stadium in England have a format of an IOT Smart Sport Stadium. Technology is installed for consumer behaviour analytics for large audience to track fans behaviour during a game. An IOT Smart Sport Stadium have a source of real-time data creating real-time insights into a game. In preparations for Edo 2020, the renovation of Samuel Ogbemudia stadium could have easily (and at a relatively inexpensive cost) been upgraded to a Smart Sport Stadium. Gravy Analytics is an example of such technology provider. It could have been done locally as well. A smart sport stadium should have high-tech driven security architecture. It should have the ability to discern real threats from innocuous actions. In and around the stadium, even the movement of a tiny little pin can be tracked real-time. It comes equipped with the technology that could make it a high class game so quality high definition video streams can be beamed to the world through TV, iPlayer, etc. It should enable live video streams from multiple camera sources so that the best video from multiple feeds can be determined on the fly. A Smart Sport Stadium should have the technology for cash and cashless payments using technology such as Zwipe and finally the bandwidth to eliminate the risks of web exhaustion from multiple devices fighting to get a bit of the bandwidth. All these facilities make the consumer-experience of watching a premier league game on TV enjoyable. This is the difference with Nigerian professional league and why it does not generate as much interest or revenue compared to the English Premier League or any other developed league anywhere else in the world. TECHNOLOGY!

Only when you have successfully packaged sports as an attractive product that you can see the big money move in to the industry from private sector investors and TV merchandising. As Edo sets out to welcome 8500 athletes from all over Nigeria and thousands of other sport enthusiasts, Edo 2020 would have been the perfect opportunity to restart the renaissance of sports in Edo State.

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