The theme also demonstrates how the African Business Events Industry have applied the trend of "shared economies" to their business models to achieve greater efficiencies, and how this has created a sustainable way of driving business growth in the sector.
With over 1,000 meetings already set up on the online diary system, Meetings Africa 2022 is set to remain true to its purpose of bringing together buyers and exhibitors and growing the business events industry on the continent.
During a Meetings Africa Media Roundtable on 9 February 2022, media, tourism and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) stakeholders gathered at the Southern Sun Waterfront in Cape Town to showcase the value proposition of the tradeshow.
The trade show affords exhibitors and buyers a platform that provides a conducive and thriving business environment to engage and transact meaningfully whilst demonstrating the SA/Africa’s capability to host a global event.
South African Tourism Acting CEO, Themba Khumalo, said that although Meetings Africa 2022 has elements of a hybrid event, much of the physical gathering will go a long way to recapture the spirit that the pan-African trade show is known for. "It will have that human connection and I encourage everyone to be physically present at Meetings Africa. The time when we are facing adversity, there is a higher human instinct that digs deep and does not allow the barriers to stop us from doing what we need to do."
He said Meetings Africa provides stakeholders the platform to begin the work of restoring the business events sector to profitability. "Let us trade hard on the floor. If we take that attitude we will have the very best Meetings Africa we will ever have because of the spirit in which we do it."
Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the Chief Conventions Bureau Officer of the South African National Conventions Bureau, said that Meetings Africa 2022 will continue to play a central role in furthering business and boosting Africa’s economic development. "It is the engine room of our countries. Meetings Africa has become such an important platform for us to come together again. It might look different, but it is still the platform where Africa comes together and shows its offerings to the world."
Kotze-Nhlapo said that business events are at its most effective when people can meet in person. “We have the problem where corporates are not meeting physically. It is easy to hide behind cameras and pixels. But if you meet virtually, fewer innovative ideas are born. Through physical meetings, we can inspire our buyers.”
Making a return to Meetings Africa will be the Sustainability Village, the Future Leaders Forum, Speed Marketing and plenary discussions on various topics.
The newest addition to the Business Opportunities Networking Day (BONDay) is the MICE Masterclass, which will equip participating entrepreneurs with the tools and skills to confidently re-enter the business industry space. Kotze-Nhlapo said that with so many businesses shutting doors in the last two years, the entrepreneurs who remain will form the backbone of the MICE industry. "The masterclass will help existing businesses – and new entrants to the industry - to have real training and upskilling."
Kim Roberts, the national chairperson of the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), said that Meetings Africa’s tag line of Advancing Africa Together is the key to re-growing the continent’s economy. “We have become more resilient and our foundations are that much stronger. People are, once again, willing to participate and explore new ideas. Meetings Africa is the right environment to start those conversations again and encourage people to come back to the continent.”
Roberts said that the MICE industry is set to recover to its former health by 2023. “There is a lot of exciting movement in business. We can craft and create a business events sector that can contribute to the economy.”
Meetings Africa 2022 will take place on 1 and 2 March at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The preliminary BONDay is set 28 February.