The WBSC are poised to hold an inaugural Africa Summit ©WBSC

World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) officials are set to stage their first Africa Summit in Johannesburg, which has the aim of reviewing and attempting to continue increasing participation rates across the continent.

The summit will take place over three days in the South African city with WBSC officials set to meet with the African Baseball and Softball Association (ABSA) and 20 national governing bodies.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari claims the event will help to strengthen the continent's baseball and softball future as an Olympic event.

"To reach the next stage of becoming a major global sport and position baseball and softball as long-term Olympic events, Africa can and will play a key role to realising these objectives," he said.

“Baseball and softball have never been as popular across the globe as they are today, and I look forward to meeting with ABSA, our National Federation members and delegates across the continent to continue these positives trends in our sport."

The summit will focus on baseball and softball's continental development across all age-groups, with the WBSC stating a particular emphasis will be placed on driving youth and women's expansion to unprecedented levels.

Baseball and softball will be contested at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, having been added to the sport programme at last year’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session.

It will be the first Games were the sports have been contested since Beijing 2008.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari has claimed Africa will help baseball and softball secure its future place at Olympic events ©Getty Images
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari has claimed Africa will help baseball and softball secure its future place at Olympic events ©Getty Images

The WBSC state the return to the Olympic programme has boosted global interest and attracted new funding, which they hope to use to deliver ambitious development goals.

Africa is a viewed as a key continent for the implementation of the governing body’s goals, which include providing financial and practical support and guidance in training, coaching and umpiring in conjunction with National Federations, as well as venue construction.

The establishment of clubs and school and community projects is also an aim, with the WBSC having created a Development Commission and a Youth Commission to lead these programmes.

Several achievements for Africa have also been acknowledged by the WBSC prior to the summit, including South Africa’s Gift Ngoepe becoming the first Major League Baseball player from the continent last month.

African nations last year also made debuts in Softball World Championships.

Kenya and Uganda competed in the WBSC Women's Softball World Championship in Surrey, Canada.

National stadiums have also been constructed in Ghana and Uganda, with the Gaborone in Botswana will host the second World Baseball Softball Congress of the year in October.