Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup an "Economic Turning Point"

The hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup presents an economic turning point for South Africa, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu said on Thursday.

International communities were not only watching their countries fight for the Cup, but were also witnessing a South Africa that continued to emerge as a competitive 21st-century economy, the consultancy said in a paper entitled 2010 FIFA World Cup, A Turning Point for South Africa"

"South Africa is reaping the rewards of hosting the Cup - namely infrastructure improvements, an economic boost, and increased national self-esteem," it said.

South Africa had been likened to a mix of the developed and developing world, said Deloitte southern Africa public sector industry leader Lwazi Bam.

"On the one hand, a strong technological and economic base put it on a par with the well-developed nations of the world. On the other, infrastructure shortfalls have contributed to keeping it from realising its full economic potential."

Bam said the World Cup had acted as a catalyst for much-needed infrastructure improvements.

"The need to move tens of thousands of soccer fans, teams, and accompanying support personnel rapidly from one place to another prioritised the strengthening of South Africa's transportation system."

Bam said South Africa had completed much of the first section of its new high-speed Gautrain passenger railway and additional bus lines.

Moving towards greener energy sources

"Highways were upgraded and the city of Durban was able to finish the country's first new greenfield airport in five decades."

South Africa had already realised many of the benefits hoped for by any national host of a major international sporting event, said Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu global public sector industry leader Greg Pellegrino.

"The event has provided a boost to national infrastructure improvements, increased employment during hard times for the global economy, and provided a unifying rallying point for a still-developing nation."

The World Cup had brought renewed attention to the challenge of generating power without an unduly adverse environmental impact.

"New stadia built for the event include such environmentally friendly features as natural ventilation and rainwater capture systems.

"In addition, hosting cities have undertaken large-scale tree-planting projects in an effort to soak up excess carbon dioxide," Pellegrino said.

As a coal-dependent economy, South African faced challenges; however, these steps moved the country towards greener energy sources.

Pellegrino said that to ensure security, the minister of police had consulted with officials from more than 30 different countries whose nationals would be in the country, resulting in an unprecedented level of international cooperation involving South Africa.

"Seeking to balance a welcoming atmosphere with rigorous security standards, the minister of police has assigned 40 000 officers, 25% of its total force, to police the Cup.

"All of these activities have required a renewed spirit of cooperation between national and local agencies and departments."

He said that moving the World Cup from a developed economy such as Germany to an emerging economy such as South Africa, and to a continent that had never hosted the tournament, created an important precedent for future hosts such as Brazil in 2014.