The benefits come in terms of publicity. A spokesperson for the African Union Commission says it will help to change the image of Africa from that of conflict to that of peaceful activities such as sport.
Yet it is mostly tourism and infrastructure development which will form the heart of the spin-offs.
Already some 25% of all tourists who come to South Africa combine this with a visit to neighbouring countries. To make this easier, and increase both the absolute numbers and the percentage of cross-border tourism, Southern African Development Community countries (SADC) are working towards a single visa for the region. Closer co-operation between regional airlines is also on the cards.
Last year a strategy was drawn up to facilitate cooperation. Known as the Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas 2010 Soccer World Cup Strategy, it aims to develop and market trans-frontier parks and conservation areas. It will lead to upgrading and adding additional infrastructure to all of these areas.
The joint regional package will focus on:
§ The Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park (connecting South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe).
§ The Kgalagadi Park (South Africa and Botswana).
§ The Kavango-Zambezi Conservation Area (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe).
§ Botswana’s Chobe National Park which will link up with Zambia’s Kafue National Park and extend into Zimbabwe and the still-to-be finalised Limpopo-Sashe Park through Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In Swaziland a $290m resort and game reserve complex on the country’s southern border with South Africa will be completed in time for 2010 and is expected to create 8 000 jobs during construction plus 2 000 permanent jobs.
South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique will also promote the Lubombo Tourism Route which spans these three countries.
It is also expected that some of the visiting soccer teams might spend some initial training time in neighbouring countries and upgrades of necessary facilities are also planned.
Thus Zambia will construct three ultra-modern stadia in Livingstone, Lusaka and Ndola, upgrade hotel and other facilities in an attempt to attract some teams to acclimatise in this country.
Tourism is seen as a potential vehicle for economic growth and thus of poverty reduction. To this end the SADC countries have grown their share of the international tourism market from 1.5% to 1.8% between 2001 and 2004. By 2010 SADC wants to almost double that figure to 3%.
As South African Deputy-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said: “We have agreed with FIFA that it will be an African event. All of Africa is invited to showcase itself and to be part of the action.”
(Sourced from a host of African newspapers)