China pledges to build Ndola stadium

Despite its failure to host the 2011 All-Africa Games, Zambia has been assured by the Chinese government that its 50 000-seater Ndola Stadium will still be constructed.

Chinese President Hu Jintao last week said his country is committed to improving sports infrastructure in Africa and will soon commence construction of a modern stadium in Zambia.

Hu, who was speaking at the inauguration of the 65 000-seater National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said Beijing Construction and Engineering Group Company would soon start constructing the stadium in Ndola.

Hu said his country attaches great importance to relations with African countries in improving sports infrastructure.

The US$56 million stadium was largely funded with a grant from the Chinese government.

Beside President Jakaya Kikwete, former Tanzania presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Ali Hassan Mwinyi and ex-prime minister Rashid Kawawa attended the ceremony.

Late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa negotiated for the construction of a 45 000 capacity modern stadium in Ndola when he visited China in 2007.

But after the death of Mwanawasa and Zambia’s backtracking on hosting the All-Africa Games 2011, the future of Ndola stadium’s revival had remained in doubt.

The stadium is still in its infant stages as it was meant to replace Ndola’s currently largest sports arena, Dag Hammerskjold Stadium.

Dag Hammerskjold Stadium was destroyed and razed to the ground in the late 80s when Zambia won the bid to host the 1988 African Nations Cup, before retracting at the last minute. It was never rebuild.

Works and Supply Permanent Secretary Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika told The Southern Times that plans for construction of a modern stadium were now back on schedule.

Col Nkunika said a team of officials from ministries of Sport, and Works and Supply had already been to China to finalise the construction contract.

“We hope to be completed with the stadium before the 2010 World Cup,” he said.

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