2010 World Cup Infrastructure - How has it changed South Africa?
As soon as it was announced that South Africa would host, the 2010 World Cup infrastructure has been a source of discussion and debate.
Hosting major sporting events such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup often has a major impact on a city or country's infrastructure. Both Beijing and London have seen massive improvements to their transport systems since hosting or winning the bid to host the Olympic Games and it is no different in South Africa with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In order to make sure the first FIFA football World Cup to be held on African soil is a success, all the stops have been pulled out to update South Africa's 2010 World Cup infrastructure as well as other areas of the continent in a bid to not only raise the bar for all future editions of the tournament, but to also improve the lives of the region's citizens.
While it is not the first international sporting event the country has hosted, with the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the Women's World Cup of Golf in 2005 and 2006 under their belt, the FIFA World Cup is the the world's biggest sporting event after the Olympic Games. In fact, in terms of television audience, it's even bigger than the Olympics. As such, the eyes of billions of television viewers, an estimated 350,000 international visitors and the world's sporting media will all be focused on the country, and South Africa is aiming not to disappoint.
After the last World Cup ended in 2006 in Germany, there was talk of the 2010 World Cup being the "most commercially successful since the first tournament was held 76 years ago" due to more marketing and television attention.
Even then it was estimated that costs for the South African World Cup would be 25 percent higher than in Germany, with agreements rumoured to total US$821 million. In comparison, there was only US$700 million worth of deals done for the German World Cup.
2010 World Cup: South Africa Infrastructure upgrades
While South Africa has updated its infrastructure over the years making it a popular holiday destination for many, the South African government has spent over US$660 million building and renovating 10 World Cup stadiums for the tournament.
The increase in tourism infrastructure has also seen an increase in the number of hotels, with at least 30 being constructed in Johannesburg alone. However, it is the sporting structures that unsurprisingly have seen heavy investment.
Five of South Africa's football stadiums have undergone major renovations in the past few years; Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg in North West province, and Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein in the Free State. New stadiums have also been built at Mbombela in Mpumalanga and in the Nelson Mandela Metro (encompassing Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape.
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In Cape Town, a new electrical substation has been built in Green Point to ensure enough power for the stadium and surrounding area.
In other aspects of South Africa's infrastructure, US$680 million has been spent on upgrades to the country's airports, and US$460 million has been put into improvements to the country's road and rail network. The country's airports have also seen an increase in capacity with the South Africa's main airport, Tambo International, now capable of handling 28 million passengers a year.
The country also has a high-speed rail link that runs from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport. Known as the Gautrain, provisions are being made to ensure that it runs to a tight deadline so no delays are caused.
A post-World Cup South Africa
It is estimated that the World Cup will put around US$2 billion into South Africa's economy, generating just under a billion in directing spending and creating a estimated 159,000 new jobs. As such, many top business executives have taken notice of the investment potential of a post-World Cup South Africa.
There is also expected to be a massive business boost as companies produce World Cup related paraphernalia to cash in on the tournament's popularity. Over the past decade, the country has lost thousands of jobs due mainly to the influx of cheaper Chinese imports, but the financial potential in producing memorabilia like T-shirts, caps, hats and scarves could temporarily ease that.
Even in 2006, Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu's Western Cape general secretary said, "The reason we're backing the World Cup is that there should be employment and procurement opportunities for locals. It shouldn't just benefit those who are already wealthy."
Speaking on the eve of the competition, Dr Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, was optimistic about the opportunities the World Cup has nought to the country.
"This is one of the fundamental reasons why we pursued the idea of hosting the World Cup. It is about further investment in the country and growth in trade and economic opportunities. And the way in which you do that is by demonstrating that you have the infrastructure and the capability to warrant serious consideration for such investment."
A recent study by Deloitte has revealed that 77 percent of senior business executives surveyed in the United States believe that, over the next five years, infrastructure - both public and private - will become a more important factor in determining where they locate their operations to accommodate for expected growth.
"There will be a big direct injection for the economy", Standard Bank economist Goolam Ballim said after FIFA announced the 2010 host. "But the indirect impact may be more meaningful for a sustainable economic lift in subsequent years ... it will help change the perceptions that a large number of foreign investors hold of Africa and South Africa."
With the massive infrastructure investment that has been poured into Africa over the past four years, the region has definitely got a bright future long after the 30 day tournament ends.
Legacy of the tournament
While investment is good, ensuring it stays is just as important and as such, a lot of effort has gone into make sure the improved infrastructure remains long after the tournament finishes - this goes from transport and telecommunications to logistics and security.
What is even more important to make sure that this expands far beyond South Africa's borders but applies to the rest of the continent. In November 2006 the African Legacy Programme, a joint initiative of the Local Organising Committee and the government, was devised in response to one of the main inspirations behind South Africa's preparations for 2010 - that being to leave a legacy for the African continent.
The programme aims to:
To ensure the continent is as actively involved in the tournament as possible, the African Union is actively involved in this continent-wide initiative, which sees projects in;
With projects like these, developing the continent's youths through football, it is hoped that the improved infrastructure coupled with a healthy lifestyle will foster pride in the country and continent.