In May 2004 South Africa was named as the host nation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This will be the first time that the world’s biggest sporting event will be held on African soil.

From the outset, South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been questioned both internationally and at home. While this has become frustrating for both the Local Organising Committee and FIFA, it is hardly surprising given that the last five World Cups have been hosted by nations that rank in the top seven developed economies in the World, leaving their ability to meet the infrastructure and expertise demands of hosting the mammoth event in little doubt.

The show will go on… in South Africa
Despite rumours as extreme as plans to move the World Cup to Australia, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has never wavered in his support for South Africa and has, on more than one occasion, said that nothing, other than an act of God, would stop South Africa hosting the World Cup in 2010.

In February 2008 FIFA said that South Africa is arguably ahead of previous World Cup organisers at this comparative stage.

Construction of four new stadiums and the major upgrade of Soccer City in Soweto began in early 2007 and all ten World Cup stadiums remain on track to meet the 2010 deadline.

Changing perceptions of Africa
The World Cup in 2010 is expected to attract a cumulative television audience of 30 billion people. This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put South Africa foremost in the minds of the international community and to change perceptions of the country and the continent.

Private sector fixed investment has already grown by 72% in real terms and business confidence has increased by 16% since South Africa was named as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup in 2004.

Close to R40 billion is to be spent by national, provincial and local government on 2010-related infrastructure including stadiums and training venues, precinct upgrades, roads, rail, public transport, safety and security and training.

Public transport legacy
A revolutionised public transport system is seen as one of the most important legacies that South Africa will secure from hosting the World Cup. The focus is on bus rapid transit systems, improved rail facilities, the integration of existing transport services, facelifts for taxi ranks, public transport lanes and on vastly improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

The first phase of the R25 billion Gautrain rapid rail link project is on track to be completed by 2010 and R10 billion is to be spent on upgrading South Africa’s airports ahead of the tournament.

A safer South Africa
The World Cup has also sparked a massive police recruitment drive with plans to increase police numbers from 55 000 to over 190 000 and reservists from 45 000 to 100 000 by 2010.

In order to meet FIFA’s communication requirements South Africa has embarked on a major upgrade of its broadcast network, a R1 billion switch over from analogue signal to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and an upgrade of telecommunications infrastructure.

According to an economic assessment by Grant Thornton International, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will contribute at least R51,1 billion to the GDP of SA between 2006 and 2010.

The biggest contribution will come from construction and related activity (R29,3 billion) followed by foreign tourism (R15,6 billion).

A boost for tourism
South Africa is expecting to welcome around 400 000 foreign tourists (including visitors from other African countries) for the World Cup.  South Africa will welcome an additional two million international tourists between 2007 and 2015 as a result of increased exposure of being the Host Country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Increased investment in hotel developments and resorts, estimated at R20 billion, are planned across South Africa in the run-up to 2010.

South Africa’s current economic boom and the expected growth are not driven solely by 2010 capital expenditure. At present, only R15 billion of about R80 billion additional Government capital spending (over the next three years) will go to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

While 2010 remains a landmark year to look forward to, assuming South Africa hosts a successful event, the real and meaningful benefits will only come after 2010 in the form of rising asset prices, increased inflow of fixed investment, tourism and trade. Growth can be expected to continue after the tournament.

DATED: 6th November 2008