The FIFA World Cup™ is the greatest sporting spectacle on earth, but in 2010 it's also about creating jobs and opportunities for South Africans and growing the country's burgeoning economy.

To explore ways ordinary South Africans could potentially benefit from the event, a very successful Business Opportunities Conference was held jointly by the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Organising Committee (O.C.), South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

The two-day conference was opened by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and was addressed by the O.C.'s Tumi Makgabo, FIFA Marketing's Alexander Koch, Jaime Byrom of MATCH, the company mandated by FIFA to take care of among others the IT, accommodation and ticketing solution functions for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ as well as the Deputy Director General of the Department of Trade and Industry Iqbal Meer Sharma.
While FIFA and the OC highlighted the scale of the FIFA World Cup™ and the ways in which South Africans could participate in the event, MATCH highlighted in particular opportunities in which South Africans could benefit for example in the accommodation and ground transportation industries.

The conference also broke into commissions which looked at the challenges faced by Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME's) in the lead-up to and during the tournament in 2010 and at how more experienced businesses can support smaller industries in their growth and development. These commissions focused on seven specific sectors namely construction; tourism, hospitality and catering services; transport; security; ICT; manufacturing, retail and wholesale and health.

Dr Danny Jordaan, the chief executive officer of the 2010 OC, said he found the outcome of the two-day conference "extremely rewarding".
"The Business Opportunities Conference is a very important first step to making sure there is sustainable economic growth beyond 2010, in particular for small, micro enterprises. We have to take into account the extent to which we can use this opportunity to create an environment where SMME's can participate. Their contribution is around 40% of South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP). If we can help them participate, we will regard it as an important legacy objective of ours for this World Cup. There are so many sectors in which we want to engage SMME's. In Germany for example, for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ they needed 600 000 bottles of wine. And imagine the sandwiches and drinks required for 2010. I'm just talking catering. The World Cup's a massive event and we must look at how we can assist SMME's," said Jordaan.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said it was important for South Africa to leverage the economic benefits of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and to use the event to position Africa as a dynamic, growing continent that is very confident about its future.

"South Africa has a growing economy. We have committed ourselves to growing at a minimum of 6% by 2010. But we think that there's a possibility for us to reach that level of growth even before 2010. The preparations for the games (of 2010) and the construction boom are contributing to that growth. But we are looking at the real impact on the real economy and bringing changes in the lives of people. Are we putting bread on the table? And this is where this event (the business opportunities conference) becomes important. Because a event like this bring together real people, not numbers," said Mlambo-Ngcuka.

"We are bringing together people who as a result of their participation in the game will create jobs. They will increase the earnings that can be made in their communities, and in that way some of the people who might never have been connected to the benefits of the game will be able to benefit. And that is what we call shared growth. We have been concerned in South Africa that as our economy we must always look at angles where we can bring in ordinary people, so that the growth that the economy enjoys is actually shared by many people," she added.

Her views were reiterated by the DTI's Deputy Director General Iqbal Meer Sharma.
"We're pleased with the outcome of this conference on a number of levels. We are happy that debates and dialogues have started and that 2010 stakeholders have begun talking to each other. As Government, we see the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a catalyst in assisting the growth and development of the country," said Meer Sharma.