Meetings No 22
Constructive Journalism
Atti Soenarso: Journalism that offers a fuller picture of our world.
Cover Story
Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Gapminder
“We’re right, you’re wrong. It’s as simple as that.”
You have to have Stories to tell
The simple poetry of My Life as a Dog.
Long Tail Insights
The Power and Legacy of Conferences
Stories of serendipity, innovation and driving social change.
Smart Decision
Sustainable Meetings Vital Part of the New Strategy of Gothenburg
Gothenburg has a clear plan.
African Convention Bureaux Will Lead the Way
Agenda 2063 is a call to action.
IBTM World Announces Tech Watch Award shortlist
A shortlist of nine finalists has been announced.
Economic Impact
Incheon – Forward-thinking Metropolis
A South Korean city with a demand for business events.
You Are Not Safe
Predicting the birth of the Internet with 20/20 hindsight.
Global Index
Gaining Edge Launches Global Competitive Index
Bigger isn’t always more competitive.
IACC confirms 63 new member venues in Denmark
The new venues are part of Danske Konference Centre.
Isn’t It Time? The 13 Questions for Visionaries
Robin Sharma hopes to help you win.
Thought Leadership
A Futurist on the Future of Payments
Anders Sorman-Nilsson: It has to be frictionless.
Tips for Measuring ROI
Two ROI experts share their insights.
CWT Meetings and Events Forecast 2019
Data-driven insight and expert analysis to maximise your results.
Our Knowledge Bank Is Growing
Roger Kellerman: New knowledge flows to us.
How to pivot
Incon Launches Covid-19 Resource Page
with offices in 170 destinations.
one step at the time
Asia’s MICE sector
expected to rebound ahead of other regions.
First to open
Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center
in Reykjavík is ready for the post-Covid-19 era.
amazing opportunities
Amsterdam Drone Week
expands activities with hybrid summits.
opening up
Etihad Airways
adds more return flights, including Paris, Geneva, and Milan.
New faces
at The Hague Convention Bureau
to focus on key sectors.
one step at the time
Emirates to resume passenger flights from May 21
to nine destinations.
one step at the time
RAI Amsterdam:
‘We’re ready to reopen following social distancing guidelines’.
one step at the time
Iceland To Open
to Tourists Again On June 15th (With Conditions.)
13,254 rotating association meetings
2019 ICCA statistics captured 13,254 rotating association meetings,
US still country number one.
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Agenda 2063 is a call to action.

The aspirations of Agenda 2063 reflects the voices of Africa “through a people-driven process for the realisation of our vision for an integrated, people-centred, prosperous Africa at peace with itself.”

Agenda 2063 is a call to action: to diversify the African economies. To glean skills and accelerate an entrepreneurial revolution. To unleash the latent creativity.

Intangible, unpredictable – the concept of human capital is arguably the most valuable asset in creating a convention bureau. It is the collective value of individuals – their intelligence, knowledge, talent, EQ and experience – that represents a form of wealth that can be guided to achieve a destination’s goals and to realise its strategy. Everything begins with a meeting.

The concept of a national convention bureau of Africa began some two years ago, with a meeting for gaining political support for MICE at the highest level and encouraging government to take the lead in creating an effective institution and coordinating mechanisms to maintain a dialogue with all stakeholders.

The Business Tourism Company (TBTC) has since ignited a raft of focused future-fit strategies designed to advance Uganda’s professional fields and disciplines across the meetings sector. These are crucial to changing the conversation from leisure to business, encouraging the exploration of new perspectives and consequently elevating Uganda “the pearl of Africa” (Winston Churchill) towards another economic dimension.

With greater comprehension of the meetings sector comes greater responsibility – that is to own the opportunities and steer the strategies and outcomes originated to help re-frame the industry’s thought processes and join a new dialogue towards designing a new African economic sector.

“The campaign TBTC drove defined outcomes via human-centric hands-on experiences creating moments of economic meaning,” says Doreen Katusiime, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities. “We are at the end of the second decade of a century of change. The decisions we make going forward on trade, infrastructure, population movements and dealing with climate change will set the agenda for the next 100 years. The roles of meetings in Uganda and Africa in this space is crucial.”

An industry that brings large numbers of decision makers to a continent is crucial. Successful continents and countries of the future will be those that make meetings a component of the way ahead.

Africa is the world’s second largest continent and the next meetings frontier. The continent’s competitiveness is increasing, and there is a sense of economic liberation as destinations scale up their economic development agendas.

“The Lions are on the move, readying to roar. There is a lot of Africa to discover in a world suffering from a plague of sameness,” says Rick Taylor, CEO of the Business Tourism Company.

“Business events remains one of the most lucrative yet least well-acknowledged segments of the African tourism industry. And talking of second-tier cities – and over tourism – Africa has a string of market-ready candidates that are world-class and provide meeting buyer choice galore. Africa is a story waiting to be told. The continent oozes opportunity: the asset has yet to sweat as convention bureaux of the next decade emerge as economic and product development incubators,” says Rick Taylor.

African Convention Bureaux will lead the way as brokers of innovation and share this revenue channel with the industry at large, the private sector in particular. The technicalities required to deliver the institutional values as an importer/exporter of knowledge will be learnt in time as the likes of organisations such as SITE, ICCA, MPI, PCMA, IAPCO, Destinations International envelop Africa as a component of their international strategies. Africa is a long-term strategy, and independent strategies are called for. It will not be good enough to cut and paste what may work in the USA and shoe-horn the plan for Africa. It does not work that way. Global meeting buyers going forward must be encouraged via harder working messaging to step outside their comfort zones and explore the new experiences awaiting their delegates in Africa.

Liberalising air transport and ongoing relaxation of visa rules, easier currency convertibility, Afro-optimism and business events development is mushrooming. Africa has the numbers. Over 70 million Africans were flown by African airlines last year compared to 40 million ten years ago. Africa is taking off.

Governments in Africa appreciate the meritorious import of the business tourism sector. And Uganda is the latest destination on the continent to open its MICE doors.

“An ongoing objective is to convince a world trapped in a confused future that Africa and Uganda, in particular, have the market ready MICE services. Until the continent has the credentials, it’s going to be ignored, thus the significance of alliances via SITE, MPI, ICCA, IAPCO …” says Rick Taylor.

The centre of gravity of the sub-Saharan meetings economy will move by 2030 to consolidate around East Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia), West Africa (Nigeria) and first mover advantage beneficiary South Africa. The rippling multiplier effect will when leveraged cascade handsomely to neighbouring economies.

Africa is a long-term play, and the vision for the continent has to be way beyond a short-term strategy. Uganda is the next frontier momentarily and the latest business event destination to ring-fence the sector as a propeller to elevate the economy. The great news is that the government, via the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, has begun to fully understand the theory and eco-system of the meetings industry.

“The sector is far more strategic and technical than leisure,” says Rosemary Kobutagi, Acting Uganda Convention Bureau (UCB) Head. “The sector is going to be the oil that is going turn this propeller.”

Uganda is awaiting the meeting planner’s deeper dive and discovery: infrastructure development is evident in world-class hotels with conference centres, iconic magnets such as the source of the Nile, the Equator, the lakes of the Rift Valley.

“Lake Victoria is as large as Lake Michigan,” says Rosemary Kobutagi.

Uganda, presently eighth on the 2017 ICCA Africa ladder, has a future capability of a top 5 ranking. The Uganda Convention Bureau will be strategically focusing on marketing and promotion to provide optimum ROI. The private sector has recently established an industry governance association (UACII) and plans to train a strong service ethic focused industry and constituency thereby laying a strong commitment to annual research and data, establish an appropriate approach to budgeting and funding related to marketing, sales and service implementation.

“We have to move towards our goals with an outrageous sense of urgency,” says Rick Taylor.

Photo: Colette Taylor