Egypt said on Tuesday it had launched a project to establish the biggest sports center in Tanzania, marking the first step towards building similar facilities in Africa.

Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy said the project underscores Egypt’s “distinguished and brotherly relations with African nations” as the country aims to further strengthen those ties.

The Egyptian project, which will later extend to “many African countries”, will be carried out in collaboration with ‘I Friends Sport’ firm.

“This cooperation comes in the framework of the political leadership’s interest in bolstering relations with African countries in various fields, the most important of which is sports,” Sobhy told a news conference.

“It also comes to encourage the private sector and Egyptian businessmen to explore investment opportunities in a way that serves the common interests of [African] countries.”

Sobhy said Egypt’s ambitious plan was evaluated and approved by the Egyptian cabinet, paving the way for its implementation.

Tanzania should be the launching pad for the project, Sobhy added, as Egypt seeks to build sports academies in several African countries.

The sports center that Egypt plans to establish in the east African country will include football training grounds, indoor courts for basketball, handball and volleyball as well as an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a tennis court. It will also feature gymnasiums and medical clinics.

“The first phase of the project starts from east Africa,” I Friends Sport chairman Amr Mostafa Kamel said.

“The purpose of establishing such sports centers is to strengthen the Egyptian presence in Africa as a soft power … especially that Tanzania is one of the most important African countries. We are also expecting financial returns from this investment.”

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