Pro-poor Local Economic Development and the demand for economic growth: A case study on the lack of inclusive development in South Africa
Local Economic Development (LED) is often seen as a driving force for economic growth and development in Africa. Particularly in South Africa, LED has been espoused as a mechanism for overcoming the inequalities of the apartheid past. However, the catalysts of LED are often not local government, they are large projects with a trickle down desire for LED. Many places espouse the LED virtues of hosing mega-events, citing the huge spend of capital expenditure that will change the nature of an area. This paper presents a case study of the spin-off effects of hosting a megaevent on a deprived and marginalised local area.
The hosting of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as with many international events is heralded as a key driving force for Local Economic Development. Across Africa, LED projects have been driven by big spending initiatives such as public transport development, stadium builds and mass housing developments. In South Africa, the 2010 FIFA World Cup was put forward as a development initiative that would accelerate LED investment and up government spending on infrastructure. In many instances, the World Cup was seen as a strategy for development and a key driver in the push for economic growth. At a national level, this rhetoric is easy to sprout, however, on the ground, these development deliverables had to be achieved by host cities as LED initiatives. Thus, host cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were tasked with using the FIFA World Cup as a driving force in their Integrated Development Plans.
In many cases, existing development projects that would have occurred anyway were accelerated due to the World Cup, the gautrain, highway improvement and Rea Vaya bus network are cases in point (du Plessis, 2010). Nine years after the event, it is clear that these LED projects did not bring much local development. In the Johannesburg Municipal Metropolitan region, the key strategy for economic development is LED and the inner city has been targeted as needing economic intervention. In this way, the existing city improvement district (CID) of the Ellis Park Sport Precinct, which hosted six games, was targeted for further upgrades for the event. The R1.2 billion investment was justified by claiming it would enhance the local infrastructure and would be a key LED initiative benefiting the local population. The extensive development has greatly enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the precinct and created a world-class sports complex, however, the objective of enhancing the local economy and upgrading the local region has not been achieved. The sports precinct has become an isolated hub of wealth in what is a poor and neglected suburb. When in the well-maintained precinct, one only has to look towards the exit to see the neglected and abandoned buildings of the surrounding area. The mantra of LED was used to justify the huge investment into the area, yet despite the billions of Rands spent, this space has simply become a transient space for sport fans who use the space intermittently and steer clear of it outside of these times (Rogerson, 2006; van Donk et al., 2008).
The aim of this chapter is to explore how LED can be used to impact on the living conditions and lives of the poor. It uses the mapping of the precinct to examine how local users in this deprived and marginalised space identify places that had been improved and how these spaces were perceived outside of when sporting events took place. Based on this, local residents have not greatly bene fitted from the initiative and the FIFA World Cup legacy is greatly diminished with the LED project having done very little to create a vibrant place that can be used outside of major sporting events. This study can help to explore the role of mega-events in providing pro-poor economic development in a local context.