SOUTH AFRICA’S potential as a major investment opportunity for Portuguese business was highlighted by its Ambassador at a lunch organised by the South African Chamber of Commerce in the Hotel Altis recently. Guest of honour was Brazilian football coach Luís Filipe Scolari, who almost led Portugal to European Championship success in the Euro 2004 tournament.
South African Ambassador, Dr. Elsa Dry, spoke about the investment climate in South Africa, as well as the forthcoming sporting opportunities opening up in that country when South Africa hosts the World Cup in 2010. “It is important to know that South Africa functions on a well-established, organised basis,” she said.
Dr Dry went on to explain that President Thabo Mbeki had set out a comprehensive programme of action earlier this year. At the heart of the programme is South Africa’s commitment to reduce poverty and create jobs. “The South African government believes that this is the best way to create stability,” she said.
An important aspect to this economic recovery is South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 soccer World Cup, which will require significant improvements to airports, rail and road infrastructure. “This, of course, is a major event. We’ve hosted some big events and we’ve done well, but this is the big one!” Some 400,000 foreign fans are expected to visit South Africa, while an audience of 2.7 billion viewers are expected to watch the competition on television.
To ensure the tournament is successful, the South African World Cup organising committee is working with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of South Africa. It has created a business unit catering specifically for the tournament and will be budgeting for all the venues needed for the event. An estimated 170 million euros will be invested in upgrading existing venues and 650 million euros will be spent on upgrading airports and roads, electricity and water supply, media facilities and other infrastructure in the cities where these matches will be played.
Five new stadiums are due to be built and five will be renovated to bring them up to international standards. Among the projects is Johannesburg ‘soccer city’ – about to undergo a 46 million euro upgrade – and semi-final venue Durban, where a new airport will be built to accommodate 4.2 million passengers a year, along with several hotels and a 90,000-seater football stadium. “This will undoubtedly offer a lot of investment possibilities for Portuguese and other foreign companies,” concluded Dr. Dry.