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South Africa bid to host the 2010 World Cup hoping it would put the "Rainbow Nation" under the global spotlight. The county wished to show how far it had come since the days of apartheid, but also to draw attention to the ways it still needs help. With the World Cup over, what's next for South Africa? What promises lay ahead, what challenges must it overcome, and what role will the world at large play there?

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  • Showing Off the South African Commercial Market   The Wall Street Journal's Robb Stewart writes, "For many who associate Africa with war, poverty and AIDS, South Africa's World Cup has shown another side to the continent. The country boasts a transparent democracy, a rich class of consumers and a nationwide network of roads. ... Part of that entails showing off infrastructure, winning over visitors and reversing what many describe as an image problem. ... For Visa, which is also a top level Olympic sponsor, the move was part of efforts to open new markets in the developing world and in countries where the Olympic sports are far less popular than soccer such as in Africa, the Middle East and South America. In anticipation of the World Cup, Visa was able to get its cards accepted with 14,000 merchants and in 200 malls across South Africa."
  • Political Leadership Must Lead Economic Opening The Financial Times' Alec Russell writes, "Inspiring as this World Cup has been, should investors see South Africa as the conduit to the next great frontier? A prominent Asian visitor was very impressed by the country's infrastructure. But what of the leadership, he asked? Will it lead? [South African President] Zuma struck the right tone in his lunch address. Africa should be a new 'node of global economic growth' and no longer be seen as a 'permanent recipient of aid'. But he now needs to make some brave decisions if South Africa is to help the 'lion' economies roar, and the World Cup is not to be an evanescent dream."
  • Important Victory for Racial Equality  The Guardian's Peter Hain writes, "Today visiting football fans and TV viewers probably find it impossible to comprehend the incredible brutality and inhumanity of apartheid. Laws even barred me, as a schoolboy in Pretoria in the late 1950s and early 1960s, from playing football with or against anybody who did not have white skin. Aaron Mokoena, who plays for Portsmouth, would not have been able to captain Bafana Bafana, South Africa's national team. Had there been no sports apartheid protests, had Nelson Mandela's African National Congress not triumphed, had apartheid not fallen and the country morphed miraculously into a rainbow nation, this World Cup could not have happened - it would have been a surreal impossibility."
  • Environmental Challenges Loom  TreeHugger's Jaymi Heimbuch warns of the country's dangerous mining waste. "The big mining companies that make up the gold mining industry in South Africa are going for deposits as tiny as 0.015 ounces of gold per ton of excavated rock. This desperate reach for microscopic flecks of gold spells environmental disaster. ... Cyanide is used to extract the gold from the ore, and slip-ups in its use have killed wildlife, contaminated drinking water supplies, and wiped out nearly all wildlife in stretches of river. Beyond that, there is the issue of altering the landscape beyond recognition or repair."
  • The World Should Invest in South Africa South African investment banker Euvin Naidoo explains in a TED talk why global businesses and investors should be flocking to Africa and South African in particular:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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