South Africa’s reputation better after World Cup

Posted: October 21, 2010 in News
Tags: , , , , ,

By Andile “Ace” Magxaki

A recent study by the Reputation Institute in South Africa has shown that, in terms of reputations, South Africa has moved into a better category following the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at the release of the study, the institute’s MD Dominik Heil said that after the hosting of the World Cup, South Africa shifted from a listing of countries with some serious reputational issues, such as Iran and the Ukraine, to a place where South Africa was statistically similar to places like the US and India.

The Reputation Institute South Africa‘s study formed part of a global study conducted, where consumers in each of the Group of Eight (G8) countries rated 39 country brands to provide a snapshot of the reputation of emerging markets with G8 consumers. The study is usually conducted on an annual basis, but a second study was conducted to calculate the effect that the World Cup had on South Africa’s reputation.

Heil showed that foreign perceptions of South Africa climbed from 44,6 points in January to 49,11 points after the World Cup. “The World Cup resulted in foreign countries having a much more holistic view of the country, whereas in the past, they mainly only had access to the ‘bad’ news in the country.”

The survey also showed that South Africa was viewed more favourably by European countries that were geographically closer to it, such as Germany and Italy, compared with non-European countries, such as the US and Canada.

Heil said that if the country was able to maintain a level of consistency with these perceptions, it could lead to increased investment into South Africa. He noted that internationally, South Africa was not really recognised as a significant investment or business country, scoring quite low at 40,51 out of a 100 points for its business environment and 41,63 points for its products and services.

“Even though the country has some big business, such as South African Breweries and Sasol, the products are not always linked with the country itself and the consumers are unaware of the company’s or the product’s origin when using it. I believe that currently South Africa is underrated when it comes to business and investment.”

Heil also pointed out that government-related perceptions would play a significant role. The effectiveness of South Africa’s government was rated very low by the international community in January 2010 at 36,51 points, but increased somewhat after the World Cup to 39,72 points.

While South Africa scored some points in the international community, perceptions by South Africans dropped quite significantly after the World Cup. Ratings dropped from 67,78 points in January 2010, to 56 points in August this year. Heil said that this was largely due to the public sector strikes.

Perceptions of the effectiveness of the country’s government dropped from 60,91 points in January, to 34,33 points in August this year. “I would not expect the government in any other country to survive with that kind of a drop”, said Heil. Similarly, confidence in social welfare dropped from 61,73 points to 36,50 points.

Interestingly, for both consumers in the G8 countries and South Africans, the most important driver of the country’s reputation was its contribution to the global community. Heil said that South Africa’s second election to the United Nations Security Council was a golden opportunity to show the world and the country’s citizens that it could positively contribute to the global community.

South Africa surprised many, and outraged some, during its first term on the council, when it joined Russia and China in voting against a Security Council resolution on human rights issues in Myanmar, while also finding itself on the wrong side of Zimbabwean politics. Heil said that siding with the “wrong sides” could damage South Africa’s reputation. “Locking the Dalai Lama out of the country will definitely not help the country’s reputation. The world and South Africans are expecting the government to make principled decisions, that would assist the country to become politically more significant and credible, which would also help attract investment, visitors and human capital,” he concluded.

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