Representative business events industry associations have joined forces to professionalise the industry.

The formation of the Council of Event Professionals (CEP) Africa was announced at Meetings Africa – with founding members the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) Africa and the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).

SAACI National Board Member Glenn van Eck says CEP Africa, which is currently being registered as a Non Profit Company, will create recognised certification for the business events industry and work closely with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

Four certification levels will apply to individuals who apply, namely Event Coordinator, Event Manager, Event Director and the Convention Industry Council’s Certified Meetings Professional.

EXSA will determine which international qualification applies best to the exhibition industry for certification by CEP Africa.

According to van Eck other associations are welcome to join CEP Africa, either as fellow founding members with a financial stake in the body or as non-executive directors.  “We encourage them to join us in this bold initiative.  It is about making Africa a good event destination.”

He says CEP Africa will not certify companies, but courses and individuals.  “This will include Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and in this regard we will engage with experts including the Event Management Body of Knowledge Project (EMBOK) and the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council.  RPL requires a portfolio of evidence which includes years of experience, published industry articles and serving on industry bodies.

“SAQA’s Directorate for Foreign Qualifications, Evaluations and Advisory Services will assess recommended foreign qualifications against South African standards.”

Van Eck says CEP Africa has no intention of being exclusive.  Instead it is an honest attempt to lift standards of training where necessary.  “The goal is to reach a point where only CEP Africa accredited training courses are opted for and ultimately a requirement for all tenders.

“CEP Africa will enable the industry to approach government with one voice and to ensure industry ownership of its own affairs.  We will engage with the industry to determine what is lacking in terms of education and training.  Based on this, we will accredit training courses related to all industry sectors, including specialist functions like safety and security.”

CEP Africa will appoint voluntary advisory panels, which will advise on certification and Continued Professional Development (CPD) points earned by individuals.

A CEP Africa administrator will be appointed soon, certification fees determined and the body is expected to be operational by the end of the year.