South Africa should turn to other African states first to help prepare for FIFA's soccer World Cup in 2010, senior African officials and investors said on Tuesday.
How Africa can tap investment opportunities from the first World Cup to be staged on the continent is a major topic at an investment conference that opened in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
"I think this is an excellent opportunity to ensure that excess skills available in some African countries are incorporated ... rather than outsourcing first from outside the continent," said Bernhard Esau, Namibia's deputy trade and industry minister.
"In Africa employment is a major source of concern. But it seems South Africa would face a dire shortage of 60,000 engineers by the time we stage the World Cup in 2010," Esau told government officials and business executives at the conference.
The conference was co-hosted by the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the Commonwealth Business Council and South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry.
South Africa boasts Africa's biggest economy but is struggling with a serious skills shortage.
Esau said fellow African countries should also share in preparations, and suggested African construction companies be given a chance to bid for the building of new stadiums.
He quoted studies showing that South Africa's hosting of the world's biggest sporting fiesta was expected to generate up to 21.3 billion rand including an estimated 12.7 billion rand in direct spending, and create some 159,000 new jobs.
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"It would be a complete tragedy if the rest of Africa does not feel part of the event," said Austin Gamey, CEO of the Ghana-based Gamey and Gamey Academy of Mediation.
About three million visitors are expected to arrive in South Africa during the three-week tournament.
Paul Baloyi, chief executive of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, said the World Cup offered a good opportunity for strengthening regional integration.
"We need to practically begin to engage with other African countries in and around the event in a manner in which they receive the benefits of this event," Baloyi said.
Other African countries should be involved in "all the key development initiatives, based around infrastructure, tourism and other major services", he said.
Sponsors of the three-day conference included the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the Commonwealth Business Council and South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry.