Malawians launch China-funded stadium with dances, friendly match

LILONGWE – There was total excitement in Malawi capital, Lilongwe as the 70 million U.S. dollars state-of-thert Bingu National Stadium was officially opened by President Peter Mutharika before tens of thousands of Malawians Saturday.

The stadium is one of the most imposing infrastructures funded by the Chinese government in the country alongside the New Parliament Building, the Umodzi Park comprising a 12-story 5-star hotel, an international convention centre and fourteen opulent presidential villas in Lilongwe, and the magnificent Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) in the southern district of Thyolo, among others.

In his key-note address to the jam-packed sports facility, President Mutharika thanked the Chinese government for the continued support to Malawi and he dubbed China as a “brother and a friend indeed”.

Mutharika said Malawi was for the first time having one of the most advanced stadiums on the continent with international standard facilities and he urged Malawians to take good care of it.

The Malawi leader described Malawi as the Chinese people’s home in Africa and that they (Chinese) were all welcome to the southern African country at any time.

“Feel free in the country of your brothers and sisters: Malawi is your home in Africa,” said Mutharika.

Chinese Ambassador to Malawi Wang Shiting said in his remarks his government would continue to support Malawi and Africa.

Wang noted that the nine-year Malawi-China cooperation had benefited Malawians in the area of infrastructural development in all the geographical corners of the country.

The ambassador described Malawi-China bilateral relationship as “comprehensive” and that as “brothers”, the two countries would go to the highest level on the cooperation scale.

“Malawi and China has a comprehensive cooperation: we are brothers.” Said Wang. “China’s promises to Malawi and Africa in general are serious and we will honor our promises.”

The ceremony of launching the sports facility, which was named Bingu National Stadium because it was Late Malawi president Bingu Mutharika’s request to the Chinese government to construct an international stadium for the southern African country, was spiced up by a number of activities.

Among the activities were local traditional dances, prayers, various performances by the Malawi Defense Force and the Amitofo Acrobatics, a group of young Malawian boys and girls trained by the Chinese.

There was also a football match by a Chinese team, Guangzhou Football Club, against the Malawi national Team selected from the Under 17 and Under 23 Teams.

The Chinese Ambassador thanked the Chinese team members for availing themselves for the occasion all the way from China despite the fact that January 28 was a traditional new year for the Chinese and a day for family reunion.

The newly opened Bingu National Stadium stands at 56 meters from the ground to the middle point of the arch, and it sits on a 32-hectare piece of land in Malawi capital, Lilongwe.

The stadium was constructed by a Chinese contractor, AFECC (also known as SOGECOA) and it was designed by experts at Beijing Institute of Architects in China with input from Malawian experts.

The construction of the magnificent stadium commenced on July 1, 2013 and it was complete by November 30, 2015.

The stadium has a sitting capacity of 40,090, with two covered and two open stands; an eight-lane standard running track; 56 lounges where families and sponsor groups will have the luxury of watching live events in private; medical centre; a police unit; two stand-by diesel powered generators of 800kw; and a 32000-litre fire Hydrant water tank.

It also has an indoor training running track; two VVIP and two VIP lounges; four dressing rooms; two referee rooms; five event management rooms and three management rooms.

There are also eight shopping spaces at the BNS; two lifts for VVIPs; 800 toilets; and a 400-car parking space among other facilities.

The project is a concessional loan from the Chinese government to Malawi to be paid back in a period of 20 years.

The Malawi-China (Guangzhou) football friendly match, which was the last activity at the opening ceremony ended in a 2-2 draw with the visiting team equalizing from behind.

Source: Angola Press News Agency