Feb 15th, 2011 7:30 AM UTC
By Mandla Sibeko
Can Africa Leverage A Legacy To Overcome Dependency In The 21st Century?
As we approach the first anniversary since Africa joined the ranks of countries and continents to have hosted football’s most coveted sporting extravaganza – the FIFA World Cup, I would like to believe I am not alone in insisting that Africa and South Africa still have work to do to ensuring the real legacy of the tournament is experienced by future generations.
I am among those who will always look back with pride at having played a role in the delivery of the infrastructure ahead of and during the World Cup. The global branding and signage company ICON DISPLAY, whose South Africa operation I lead, was awarded the task of ensuring fans and visitors could easily navigate their way around the host cities, stadia and event sites with ease. Like others, we had to meet a specific deadline delivering the job to perfection. Collectively, the opportunity presented to big and small business, the local Government and African people by the 2010 FIFA World Cup is one we might never see again in our lifetime. As such, it begs the question how have we, and will we, leverage the massive investment by our Government into the development of stadia, transport, telecommunications, hosting, legacy, culture and much more.
Without question, our collective successes in 2010 set the tone for a new look at what is possible in Africa. But this must result in important commitments on the how value created during the World Cup can continue to be captured and circulated for generations to come. It also highlights further opportunities for Africa and South Africa to respond and trade itself out of poverty.
It is ultimately about strategically leveraging Africa’s competitive edge not only as a direct result of these trends, but also by unlocking opportunities for innovation in 21st century Africa. It is about identifying new ways of using our own natural resources such as gold, coal, cocoa and solar energy. Gold for instance can be used to drive wealth preservation by developing micro-finance schemes, a method already piloted in China and India by the World Gold Council.
Finally, Africa’s business leaders, political leaders and civil society alike, having successfully hosted the World Cup have no choice but to urgently prioritize ways to leverage the investments made in 2010. It is critical that we sustain the momentum drawing on ideas like ‘shared value’ espoused by E. Porter and R. Kramer, with policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Africa has the opportunity to lead the world in demonstrating and resetting the boundaries of capitalism. It can continue to showcase success, leveraging the success of the World Cup, by focusing its resources toward unearthing unique ways to serve its needs, regain credibility, efficiency, create differentiation and expand markets – and ultimately addressing fundamental issues of our eroded and distorted value system.
In Conclusion let’s respond to the call of others including US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on her visit in 2009 that ‘Africa to trade with itself out of poverty’.
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