Minister urges SA to grab 2010 opportunity

Monday, September 14, 2009

Johannesburg - Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana has urged South Africans to take advantage of the infrastructure and economic legacy that will be left after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Minister Xingwana said government has invested a lot of money on the event and it would be painful if ordinary citizens do not benefit from the tournament.

"This is very important for us in terms of making sure that there are spin-offs from the event and people actually take advantage of these," she said on Monday, at a discussion forum on the 2010 legacy projects.

The debate was organised by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) in a bid to remind South Africans about the benefits the world cup will bring and the lasting legacy thereafter.

Other panelists included LOC Chief Executive Officer Danny Jordaan, Premier Soccer League boss Kjetil Siem and seasoned journalist John Perlman.

Government has pumped more than R28 billion to the world cup related projects and this led to a creation of nearly 420 000 jobs, according to an independent research by Grant Thornton.

Over R13 billion has been spent on the state's public transport infrastructure system which include rapid rail network Gautrain, the Bus Rapid Transit system, freeway expansions and road upgrades.

Minister Xingwana said it was important that rural people are not left out and should be part of the 2010 festivities while they should also benefit from the benefits post-tournament.

"We want to make sure that those people also get to enjoy the world cup and the benefits it brings," the minister said.

She said through several public viewing areas to be set up across the country, rural people will be able to be part of the tournament fever.

Jordaan challenged local sports teams to make use of the stadiums beyond 2010 to prevent the facilities from standing as "white elephants".

"It would be very painful if a Cape Town team does not use Green Point Stadium after the world cup," Jordaan said, adding that most of the new and refurbished stadia will not only be reserved for soccer.

"To ensure a lasting legacy and the commercial viability of the stadiums, they will be used for both rugby and soccer, that is very important to note," he said.

Apart from the stadia legacy, several projects are in the pipeline including FIFA Centres of Hope that will act as a hub for sports development not only in South Africa but across the continent.

The goal is to build 20 such centres in countries like Ruanda, Ghana, Kenya, and Namibia and in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

The centres are expected to be completed by November and will be ready to be opened to the public shortly before the world cup final draw in December.

An estimated 480 000 tourists is expected to visit South Africa during next year's showpiece and according to projections, these visitors are likely to spend around R8.5 billion during their stay in the country.

Since South Africa won the bid to host the world cup, at least 25 new hotels were built in the country and the hospitality industry is expected to experience a boom from the tournament.