FIFA WM 2010, Pressespiegel

30. August 2010

World Cup legacy - what's in store for South Africa?

With the end of the FIFA 2010 World Cup just over a month ago, South Africa can be proud of pulling off an amazing event, which in many ways showed off the best that the country has to offer. The question, which everyone is now concerned about is what happens now? Will the South African economy be able to capitalise on the momentum or will we be stuck with a World Cup hangover that never seems to go away?

There is no doubt that the World Cup was an unprecedented success with countless tributes declaring South Africa an excellent host. Despite fears from many naysayers, South Africa emerged with a significantly enhanced reputation, not only as a wonderful country to visit on holiday, but also as major emerging economy. The organisational abilities demonstrated during the World Cup showed that South Africa is primed and ready for further growth and international interest. One figure that demonstrates the success of South Africa’s World Cup is that it has become the most lucrative income generator for FIFA out of all World Cups hosted to date. The tournament generated R29-billion towards FIFA’s profits.

The immediate benefits

The upgrade of transport infrastructure, the enhanced security provisions, the telecommunication network that beamed written, spoken and televised material all over the world and all the other logistical achievements demonstrated South Africa’s capacity to be a competitive economy on the world stage.

The World Cup injected an estimated R93-billion into the South African economy. In 2010, the World Cup is expected to contribute 0.4% of the annual GDP. It has contributed between 4-6% of the quarterly growth.

One of the major sectors to benefit was tourism and more specifically the hotel industry. Hotel room revenues rose by 121.7% and occupancies increased by 6% compared with the same period in 2009. These increases were far greater than both in Germany in 2006 and South Korea & Japan in 2002.

The road and public transport infrastructure upgrades are of the most noticeable outcomes of the World Cup. These will help improve the lives of tens of thousands of people on a daily basis. The construction of the Gautrain and the opening of the OR Tambo International Airport to Sandton route has already proved to be one such success. The number of people using the service has far outweighed expectations and once the remaining routes have been completed, it will revolutionise public transport in Gauteng. The project’s success has prompted the national department of transport to look at larger projects. The ministerial delegation that accompanied Jacob Zuma on his recent visit to China spearheaded talks with China Railway Group Ltd concerning the potential for a high-speed rail link between Johannesburg and Durban.

Pitfalls for the future

A large part of the financial injection into the World Cup was provided by government, through the upgrade of infrastructure, including roads and public transport, airports as well as the stadia. Although the positive implications have been noted, there has also been a fear that part of that spending was wasted on the stadia because not all of them will be able to cover the annual running costs. The stadiums outside the major cities, particularly the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit and the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, have been built in areas where there are no major sporting teams that could base themselves at those stadiums. These stadiums will battle to remain viable without regular sporting events, considering the large costs associated with their annual maintenance. 'The new Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane would need between R10-million and R70-million for maintenance a year,' according to the city's 2010 director, Ndahve Ramakuela.

Whereas the large stadia in major centres such as the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) will attract big soccer and rugby matches on a regular basis, with capacity or near-capacity crowds, the smaller stadiums will battle to attract events, let alone the capacity crowds needed to generate significant income.

Certain suggestions have been put forward, such as hosting religious events and music concerts but it remains to be seen whether these kinds of events can be hosted on a regular enough basis to cover the costs of stadium maintenance.

Another issue has been the fact that the security infrastructure put in place helped keep crime to a minimum during the World Cup yet security has been a serious problem in the country for the past decade. This begs the question whether there has been a lack of political will to help maintain an efficient security infrastructure. The government and security services will have to show that they can produce the same results for an extended period for all people in South Africa.

Looking forward with a positive eye on 2010’s legacy

In a recent event, called the Wits Business School Strategic Management of Innovation Seminar, numerous academics and IT experts discussed some of the relevant aspects of the 2010 World Cup legacy. It was apparent from these discussions that the hosting of the World Cup has provided the platform for a number of important innovations, which can be carried forward into South Africa’s future.

Mayan Mathen, chief technology officer of Dimension Data, pointed out that numerous upgrades made during the World Cup will continue to be useful. The upgrade of the emergency services disaster centres in the major cities, for example, will help these major centres cope with disasters better in the years to come.

One particular security measure put in place for the World Cup has not got too much publicity but is nevertheless a feather in the cap for South Africa’s safety and security infrastructure. Mathen noted that, 'South Africa’s e-border system is one of only three in the world that works on a cloud computing platform. It constantly scans international databases to keep track of potentially undesirable people as they travel.'

Mathen also pointed out some of the amazing features of the Cape Town Stadium. One such security feature, Mathen notes, was the 'facial recognition surveillance system that can send instant alerts to the police if a wanted individual is spotted on the closed circuit television system. The stadium’s electronic ticketing system and intelligent fire management systems are world class. Even the police vehicles have cutting-edge systems that allow them to travel up to 160kph while doing facial and number-plate recognition.'

The Cape Town Stadium is also run by an intelligent building management system, which makes it highly efficient, Mathen went on to note.

These technological advances might seem to be confined to very specific sectors but all of them cumulatively will leave South Africa with a collection of tools to advance the country in the years to come.

One of the most highly publicised initiatives to promote a social development legacy after the World Cup has been the 1Goal project. 1Goal seeks to create awareness, raise money and get firm government commitments to further education all around the world but particularly in those countries where access to education is limited. The goal is to provide education to the approximately 72 million children who at present do not receive even basic education. The aim is to achieve this 2015. Many world leaders, soccer stars and other celebrities have pledged their support to the initiative. It is now a question of whether all these people will follow through with their promises and deliver possibly the most lasting World Cup legacy in history?

There are no doubt pitfalls for South Africa to overcome in avoiding any hangover effects of the World Cup and having World Cup resources wasted. The World Cup did, however, create a massive rise in national pride and unity among the population and this must be harnessed. The world has seen South Africa in a new and very positive light and it is now important for the country to get back to business and ensure that the World Cup’s legacy is a focal point for economic and social growth.

Article by JP van der Merwe, first published by




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