South Africa sees good World Cup returns


South Africa has made good returns on the billions of rand it spent on hosting the continent’s first soccer World Cup says President Jacob Zuma.

The Treasury has previously predicted the one-month tournament would add 0.4 percentage points to GDP this year, with a lasting positive effect seen on the economy through infrastructure development, investment and tourism. It is too early to say for sure how much will flow from the tournament for the country of 50 million people, the majority of whose people are still mired in poverty 16 years after the end of apartheid. Reuters reports
“We can safely say that we have good returns on our investment, which includes 33 billion rand spent on transport infrastructure, telecommunications and stadiums,” Zuma said at a lunch briefing.

Analysts have said South Africa would directly recoup only a fraction of the billions of rand spent on staging the World Cup but should reap long-term economic benefits through the rebranding of a nation noted for violent crime. Businesses in Africa’s biggest economy have reported booming trade, including higher hotel bookings, car rentals and sales of World Cup memorabilia since the tournament started on June 11.

But analysts estimate foreign spending will only inject 13 billion rand into the local economy, far short of the roughly 40 billion rand the government has ploughed into new stadia and upgrading roads and airports.

South Africa had slashed an initial estimate of 450,000 foreign visitors after the global downturn and foreign media reports about violent crime caused sluggish sales of World Cup tickets outside the country.

Organisers said they were still confident of meeting that initial target, even though only 200,000 foreign World Cup fans were estimated to have arrived during the first three weeks of the tournament.