Kicking off South Africa’s economy

Gretchen Wilson Sep 14, 2007


Scott Jagow: As a soccer fan, I’m counting down the days until the next World Cup. It’s exactly 1,000 days away.

Today, the host country, South Africa, celebrated that fact. But there’s a lot of work to do in those thousand days, and plenty of skepticism about whether an African country can pull off the world’s biggest sporting event. Gretchen Wilson reports from Johannesburg.

Gretch Wilson: More than 700 million people watched Italy take on France in last year’s soccer World Cup in Germany.

With those kinds of numbers, South Africa’s betting the event will be a tipping point in its economic future — particularly in attracting new international investment.

Organizers admit that crime and poverty are challenges to hosting the event. So they’re spending big bucks to prove any critics wrong. To date, more than $2 billion’s been put into stadiums. Billions more are going into technology and transportation projects, including high-speed trains.

Even the smallest entrepreneurs are kicking off three-year business plans so they’ll be ready for the influx of tourists and cash.

Germany earned more than a billion dollars from the sale of TV rights alone. South African officials say they expect even more.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

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