World Cup Economy: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa - How the World Cup will benefit Africa
It is exactly two weeks to the commencement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. It will be the biggest football event to be held on African soil for some time to come.
As the 32 national team managers and their 736 players prepare to land in South Africa to battle for the 18-carat gold World Cup trophy, the air of expectation is thick around the continent.
Already, the South African government, which reportedly spent about $ 4.6 billion on infrastructure including the renovation and construction of 10 breath-taking stadia, is looking forward to welcoming the world to the football festival, which begins in Johannesburg on June 11.
As is always the case with the hosting of events of this magnitude, there are national expectations beyond South Africa's hopes of doing well on the field of play. Hopes of return on investment even if on a long-term basis, fuel the South African government's desire to pump resources into ensuring that it produces a successful tournament.
For South Africa, which has had to revise projections for a number of variables, particularly the original figure of 450,000 for international spectators expected, scaled down first to 350,000 and now to a little above 200,000, hosting the World Cup will leave a lasting legacy beyond the excellent sporting facilities that have been made available and the new jobs that have been created.
Thandiwe January McLean, head of South African Tourism told a foreign newspaper recently that:
"This World Cup offers our industry and nation a rich legacy. We should not see the World Cup as one event that solves all economic issues, but rather an opportunity to refine the way we do things and create a legacy for the future." In economic terms, there have been projections that as much as billion will flow into South Africa's tourism industry. An additional .1 billion is expected through the retailers in and around the various match venues and city centres.
The hosting of the World Cup on African soil will also have implications for businesses in different part of the continent, especially for the countries participating in the tournament. Nigeria, for instance, will, in the words of Sani Lulu, President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), "showcase Nigeria and its enormous potential via a Nigeria village at the World Cup". Businessmen and women in the country are already looking forward to the kick off of the tournament where they hope to close deals and establish new business connections.
For African airlines, the World Cup will have a significant effect on the balance sheet. Even though exact figures cannot be established at this stage, Africans within the continent who want to witness the tournament live have started making flight arrangements, a development that is bound to push sales figures a notch higher.
Overall, one benefit of a successful hosting of the tournament by South Africa will be the feeling of a sense of accomplishment that despite the negative criticisms from the western media, Africans are able to pull off the organisation of a tournament of such magnitude. It will certainly help to strengthen the case for another African shot at hosting in the not too distant future.