JOHANNESBURG - South Africa will only directly recoup a fraction of the billions of rands spent on staging the 2010 FIFA 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 increased hotel bookings, car rentals and sales of 2010 FIFA World Cup memorabilia since the start of the soccer spectacular on June 11. Visa Inc says that spending by foreigners using its credit cards has topped $128-million, up 54% compared with the corresponding period last year. But analysts estimate that foreign spending will only inject R13-billion into the local economy, far short of the roughly R40-billion that government ploughed into new stadiums and upgrading roads and airports. "In the short term, the economic benefits will be minor, if there is a benefit at all," says Econometrix analyst Tony Twine.
JOHANNESBURG - South Africans want the proactive policing that has led to lower crime rates during the 2010 FIFA World Cup to continue when the world is no longer watching. "It's owing to the high police presence and the operations, the helicopters, the air support," says Vish Naidoo, police spokesperson responsible for operations during the event. The police do not yet have figures, but expect much lower rates for all crimes during the world's most watched sports event. "From the day-to-day reporting that we have now, hardly any crime is being reported," adds Naidoo. Ahead of the first finals in Africa, media from around the world wrote scaremongering stories of potential violence against foreign fans, with Britain's Daily Star even reporting that machete-wielding gangs were roaming the streets. South Africa is reputed to have one of the highest rape and violent crime rates in the world. Robberies happen so often, residents say, that local papers usually fill their pages with attacks on the most high profile citizens only.
Africa & the world
CONAKRY - A peaceful poll in Guinea has added to widespread scepticism among residents of neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire about whether its leaders are really committed to holding an election that has already been delayed for five years. Just like Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, whose President is Laurent Gbagbo, badly needs a poll to produce a government with the mandate to get the country back on its feet. But, unlike its vastly poorer neighbour, the world's top cocoa grower seems incapable of doing so, with half a dozen election dates missed since 2005 while politicians wrangle over voter identification or procedures for disarming rebels. "The difference between Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea is very simple: Guinean politicians wanted to have an election," says unemployed geography lecturer Della Omer. If the politicians here wanted an election tomorrow, they could do it." In a chaotic 18 months, Guinea has seen a coup usher in a military regime whose forces went on to massacre prodemocracy marchers in the capital, Conakry, and a gun attack on the junta leader whose successor stunned the world by pledging elections. Years of slow-burn political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, once West Africa's showpiece and economic hub, have wrecked the economy, scared off investment and sent unemployment skyward. A short 2002/3 war left the country divided in two, with rebels controlling the north and west. Credible elections are seen as the only way of reuniting it and regenerating a cocoa sector badly in need of investment and reform.
LAGOS - The man charged with turning around Nigeria's dilapidated power sector promises faster reforms to encourage foreign investors to take part in a planned privatisation programme. Barth Nnaji, who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to lead a task force to boost power supply in Africa's most populous nation, says that government alone cannot invest enough to meet its energy needs. Nigeria is home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, but under-investment and mismanagement have left its power sector unable to meet demand, leaving businesses and individuals who can afford it reliant on diesel-powered generators. "[Only] 40% of the population has access to supply. It should be growing at 6% per annum if we want to achieve our objective," Nnaji says. "The government of Nigeria alone cannot do it . . . we should begin to attract investment from the private sector."