Is the World Cup benefitting the rest of Africa?

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When FIFA announced that South Africa will host the 2010 world cup finals, it was instant jubilation for the country and indeed the continent.

Many countries especially around southern Africa saw it as an opportunity to attract international attention by hosting training camps given the weather is almost similar. This was a legitimate expectation because in 2006, small towns and cities in Europe got lots of attention by hosting teams.

But as time went on and the rebels in Cabinda decided to attack an African team, it became clear that teams would not be pitching tents in any of the countries, preferring to be based in Europe than Africa; even some African countries had to go to europe because teams could not accept to play practice matches locally.

Portugal and Brazil did many of us proud by playing games against Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, I think it was specially nice that Brazil played in Zim, at least they were not scared of Comrade Bob Mugabe. Can you imagine if it was England?

So, it was clear that the immense benefits would be to South Africa, and all sectors, especially tourism, had invested heavily in ensuring that football fans did not go home after the matches, but proceeded on safari.

Largely, it may look like other African countries did not benefit much but I think the benefits are there. On my flight from Nairobi to Jozi, there was a huge contigent of Chinese soccer fans, who were in Kenya on Safari and a smaller Swiss fan base, which was in the country for three days (I was eavesdropping on the conversation with SAA crew over Yellow fever certificate).

I am sure southern Africa countries will get visitors after the world cup and maybe others will venture further north of the Limpopo river to experience what Africa has to offer. Am sure much of the benefits will be felt later; maybe with increase in tourism numbers but some benefits such as marketing the continent as an investment destination will be harder to audit.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Such a pity that African countries had to go to Europe (where their star players are based 9/12 months) to play. But what we need to ask is whether these countries offered any packages to say tourists that will be travelling to South Africa between the months of March and say August.

    We know some Kenyans were to go to SA by bus. What if the countries that they pass through would offer some incentive of sorts. Pass through any of our national parks and you get an X% discount. The bus companies would have plugged into that and also the airlines.

    One chance that has escaped most people.

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