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The renaissance of the African continent

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According to ICCA’s industry report released in October 2018, which charts the 55-year growth of the association meetings market from 1963-2017, the international association sector is robust, steady, and growing at a healthy rate. In summary: the number of international association meetings doubled every 10 years from 1963 to 2013. 

Africa follows same growth trajectory

Africa’s development as a destination for this sector follows a similar pattern in the same period. In the last 55 years, the number of international meetings in Africa has more than doubled each decade. In the last 20 years, the number of meetings being held has more than tripled in number. Like the global trend, this exponential growth pattern seems to have merged into a more mature, but still very robust growth pattern in the last 5 years. The number of meetings in Africa has grown from 294 in 2008 to almost 400 per year in most recent years. 

In particular, the number of association meetings taking place in South Africa has grown especially dramatically in the last 30 years, from 18 meetings in the time period of 1988-1992 to 632 in the time period of 2013-2017. 

Stronger advocacy through ICCA membership

In 2018, countries like South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya hosted workshops and seminars to create more awareness and advocacy around the business meetings industry

ICCA currently has members in 8 countries in Africa, with all the countries being in the Southern and Eastern African regions.   

Challenges the region faces

A challenge for the continent to grow the industry is still the limited number of convention bureaux. The Uganda Convention Bureau, under the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities Uganda, was launched in 2018 and Tanzania and Kenya are launching National Convention Bureaux in 2019. The Rwanda Convention Bureau and the various National, Regional and City Convention Bureaux in South Africa are playing an active role in securing Association Conferences to Africa. 

With the trend of association meetings becoming more regional, a challenge for Africa is still to get African Associations to rotate their conferences and for new Associations to be formed.  

Major infrastructure drive

Infrastructural development on the continent is still happening at a rapid pace. Airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir and Kenya Airways started new routes within the continent as well as adding international destinations. Airport and road infrastructure are also making a positive impact in attracting more meetings to the region, as well as new hotel developments. 

In conclusion, a lot of African economies have sustained unparalleled rates of growth coupled with the continent’s emerging middle class and increased connectivity with the rest of the world, which reinforce the opportunities that exist on the continent.

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact Esmare Steinhofel, Regional Director (Africa) on

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