Meetings Africa Kicks Off for Its 15th Year

Director of destination marketing at Expo 2020 Dubai, Sumathi Ramanathan, said that events showcase technology and innovation that enable people to envision a better future for the planet Photo: Derek Davey
Gallivant Africa

If you’re in Johannesburg right now, you’ll notice a pan-African buzz within Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton. Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) trade delegates have swarmed to the much awaited Meetings Africa.

Meetings Africa 2020 kicked-off for its 15th year in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre, 24 February, with discussions between buyers and exhibitors at BONDay (Business Opportunities Networking Day).

This year’s event theme, ‘Shared economies’, is focused on the question of  collaborative African growth.

Organisers, South African Tourism list a number of positive show statistics, including:

  • 100% of the exhibitor stands sold – up from 95% in 2019
  • 118sqm more floor space sold compared to last year
  • 329 exhibitors in total and 155 main exhibitors, three more than last year
  • The 321 buyers include 205 international hosted buyers

South Africa National Convention Bureau’s (SANCB) Chief Convention Bureau Officer, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, captured the theme’s essence during the opening address, calling on all Africans to buy into the idea that the continent is where humanity and innovation starts. “We need to buy into it so we can sell it to the world. The world is standing at our door to buy you.”

Kotze-Nhlapo reflected on how Meetings Africa had grown and matured.  “I am sure you will see how we grew from a very small show to where we are today. We are here to learn from each other, find new ideas and innovation to overcome challenges. When we network with each other, magic will happen and we will wow the world.”

Keynote speaker, Sumathi Ramanathan (pictured), the Director of Destination Marketing for the 2020 Dubai Expo, echoed Kotze-Nhlapo’s theme of building relationships and inspiring ideas when she showcased the innovations and architecture that can be expected at the 2020 Dubai Expo.

It will be the first time in the World Expo’s 169-year history that it will be held in the Middle East, South-Asia & Africa region. “It is very significant for the region and it allows us to tell a strong story…The ambition was to always bring great minds together and creating a better future,” said Ramanathan.

All 54 African nations will be participating at the expo, where they can engage with the 25-million visitors expected to come from around the world.

Much like Meetings Africa’s shared economies, the Dubai mega-event’s theme, ‘Connecting minds, creating the future’, aims to bring people together. “The power in events is not only in filling hotel beds and conference meals. But when done properly, events have real purpose and have the potential to touch humanity and individuals.”

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