Meetings Africa 2014 held at the Sandton Convention Centre ended on a high note on Wednesday with record attendance.

When the business events tradeshow closed its doors at 5pm, final attendance numbers were as follows:

  • 169 international qualified hosted buyer delegates (15 percent more than in 2013)
  • 31 African Association hosted buyer delegates
  • 238 local corporate buyer delegates (up 140 percent on last year)
  • 839 visitor delegates (up 16 percent on last year)
  • 262 exhibitors (up 11 percent on last year)
  • 162 journalists (up 19 percent on last year)
  • 3 295 people, in total, had passed through the Meetings Africa 2014 gates (up 15 percent on last year)

“While we are delighted that Meetings Africa is growing, our focus has always been on quality rather than quantity,” says South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Thulani Nzima. “There is no doubt that Meetings African 2014 delivered a quality business platform for both buyers and exhibitors.

“There were, at 10 169, 2 000 more meetings requested through the Meetings Africa electronic diary system, and all exhibitor and buyer delegates report brisk business from the tradeshow floor.”

Meetings Africa’s theme this year was Advancing Africa Together. This was the first year that Meetings Africa took a decisive step to being a pan-African business event tradeshow, and exhibitor representation from the continent gives every indication that wide African representation will become a reality in the medium term, Mr Nzima added.

Thirteen African destinations exhibited at Meetings Africa 2014: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A well-supported BOND (Business Opportunity Networking Day) on Monday gave hundreds of delegates an opportunity to meet and discuss strategies to advance Africa and build the global competitiveness of this continent. Workshops and seminars on BOND day included the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum, the Event Greening Forum, the Association Day, the ICCA Africa Chapter supplier/client workshop conference and a gala dinner that gave delegates an opportunity to network with captains of the public and private business event sector on the continent.

“Meetings Africa is now firmly established as the biggest, best represented and most valuable business events tradeshow in Africa. It offers the continent a platform to do business, representing the best of our continent in one venue, and giving the African business event sector easy access to the best regional and international buyers.”

A hugely successful Meetings Africa 2014 was a fitting way for the industry to celebrate South Africa’s 20 Years of Freedom. “This industry has made huge strides in the two decades since democracy,” Nzima says, “having invested across both public and private sectors in capability and infrastructure that have made South Africa one of the fastest growing business event host destinations in the world today.”

In 1994, the first year of our democracy, South Africa hosted 12 international association conferences, in other words, those conferences that had met the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) ranking criteria.

Those 12 conferences brought a total of 5 950 people to our shores. By 2012, we had grown that number to 97 ICCA-recognised meetings, which attracted 52 587 delegates to the country, injecting an estimated R663 million into the South African economy.

“It’s our commitment, in Meetings Africa, to continue providing the industry a platform for continued global competitiveness and for ongoing growth. We look forward to Meetings Africa 2015 when the tradeshow celebrates its tenth anniversary by giving the sector; and the regional and international market an opportunity to come and do business with an even greater contingent of focussed and service-driven African exhibitors.”