World Cup is the catalyst and not the panacea
It is amazing what preparations for the World Cup in 2010 are doing for the country.
Some of the developments are benign and some controversial.
These events cut across the role of small businesses, the economy, to the state of the public transportation systems at the municipal level to the controversial broadcast rights of the professional football clubs.
The Local Organising Committee, with the government, hosted the Business Conference in Ekurhuleni that attracted more than 800 people, most of whom already operate their own businesses.
They came to learn about opportunities in the various sectors of the economy and also made inputs about their own expectations.
It was a very constructive engagement that made people appreciate that opportunities exist in the broader economy and that the World Cup has speeded up activity in specific areas.
I am disappointed that many people think that the event itself is going to create wealth for many up-and-coming entrepreneurs when it is the current economy that we should take advantage of.
Simply put, the World Cup in 2010 offers the country the opportunity to showcase itself to the world in order to attract investment and tourism that will come as a result of the successful hosting of this huge spectacle that fascinates billions around the world.
The preparations have forced us to prioritise certain areas of the public sector. We are already beginning to see changes at Home Affairs where the new director-general, Mavuso Msimang, is already introducing new methods to improve the services.
It saddens, and definitely angers many of, us that young people have to take their lives or commit crime in order to highlight their predicament of being ID-less and thus unemployable because of an uncaring system.
Recently, parliamentarians recommended to the department of transport to increase budgets and centralise some of the planning for the provision of public transport in the smaller host cities. This should benefit local communities in the long term.
New investments are also being made to improve the quality of telecommunications. These investments will be made largely to accommodate the requirements of broadcasters in 2010, but will have a bearing on cheaper access to telephone and more internet usage.
On a more controversial note, the squabble between the PSL, SABC and SuperSport regarding the broadcast rights is indicative of the fast-moving developments in football, sponsorship, broadcasting and technology in general.
The debate around the issue is already raising questions about the conflict of the interest between the broadcasters, the public and the product rights holders that is football club owners.
The question we must ask out of all this is whether any new arrangement will help improve the product itself, football.
We hope so, for the good of the game and for the sake of our chances in the 2010 World Cup.
What I have mentioned here are but some of the areas that the preparations have an effect on, but there are many more areas.
What we should remember is that the month-long festival of football in 2010 is not the panacea to any of our problems but rather the catalyst for quicker development.
l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. For suggestions on 2010 e-mail: TimM@2010saloc.com