Olaide Olumide

NBA to invest millions of dollars to start a new men’s basketball league in Africa

The National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States of America is set to invest millions of dollars in Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a proposed 12-team men’s basketball league with players selected across Africa which will be launched in partnership with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and scheduled to begin in January 2020.

According to Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA’s vice president for Africa, the league will be the first professional league outside of North America. Therefore, NBA will be actively involved in its operations to ensure that its best practices are displayed.

The African League will include six national champions from Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal and that will automatically qualify for the competition. Others will be selected through international qualifiers later this year.

According to Forbes, NBA generated a revenue of $8 billion during its 2017- 2018 season and industry players have confirmed that increase in audience interest in Africa resulted in the growth of the profile of Africans playing in the world’s top basketball league.

As a result, the NBA, in March, started livestreaming on YouTube two games per week for free for viewers in sub-Saharan Africa, in order to build a bigger fan base in Africa.

Fall added that at the opening of the 2018/19 season, 13 African-born players were on the lists of NBA teams, out of 108 international players. This is however expected to increase to about 40 if players with African parents are added as this will be a huge impact on the popularity of the NBA.

The NBA which established its first office in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010 held its first African game in 2015 and opened an elite basketball academy in 2017 in Senegal, which alongside its Basketball Without Borders Africa programme, has showcased African talents hoping to be part of NBA teams or U.S. colleges.