The 2024 Meetings Africa Edition Confirms Gauteng Means Business!

 By Barba Gaoganediwe

Fostering meaningful connections and collaborations remains the cornerstone of success in our ever-evolving landscape of global business. The recently ended Meetings Africa, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre, has once again demonstrated, Africa’s readiness as a premier business events destination. Hosting over 380 companies from 21 African countries, Meetings Africa is indeed a true showcase of Africa’s potential to shape the future of African economies. 

Aligned with ‘The Africa We Want’

Delivered through a collaboration among the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the City of Johannesburg, and the Sandton Convention Centre, this annual business event Lekgotla has consistently provided a strategic platform to showcase Africa’s untapped potential as a hub for investment, trade, and tourism. Closely aligned with The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA); one of the Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, Meetings Africa is accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global marketplace. Undeniably, our rapidly growing population, expanding middle class, and abundant natural resources, offer a wealth of opportunities for businesses looking to expand their footprint and tap into new markets.

Most significant is Meetings Africa’s ability to showcase these opportunities and facilitate dialogue between local businesses and international investors. This year’s event brought together a diverse array of industry professionals, thought leaders, and policymakers from across the globe. Through a series of business exchanges, exhibitions heightened buyers’ engagement and networking sessions, the event provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and explore emerging trends shaping the business events landscape continentally and globally. Amongst the key take-outs were the opportunities presented by the remote working framework and approval by the South African Department of Home Affairs on policy provisions related to the issuing of the required visas.

Meetings Africa in numbers

The Global business events industry was valued at $345.8bn in 2021 projected to reach $2.1t by 2031. Africa’s Business Events for 2023 are estimated at $12.7bn with South Africa contributing $6.4bn. With regards to arrivals into the country, there was an increase in international tour arrivals into South Africa by 48.9%, totalling 8.5 million in 2023, with 75.6% coming from the rest of the African continent.

Air Access and Expansion facilitating business in Africa

Undisputedly, the progressive enhancement of the Gauteng Air Access Network has significantly favoured business events platforms including Meetings Africa and other leisure activities like the province’s signature events over the years. Despite its many benefits, Meetings Africa has in the past faced its share of challenges, including logistical hurdles, and infrastructure constraints. However, with strategic partnerships such as GAAN, and innovative solutions, the event continues to thrive and expand its reach globally. For Meetings Africa Gauteng’s advanced air, road, and rail networks have been a key facilitator, connecting the province to regional and global markets.  On the other hand, GAAN is more than just an aviation initiative; it’s a driving force for economic growth, job creation, and global connectivity in Gauteng.

The inauguration and re-establishment of direct flights from international cities like Frankfurt, Brussels, Beijing-Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Perth; Regional airlines like Eswatini Air and Zambia Airways launching direct routes into Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport has been a significant catalyst of Meetings Africa’s attraction to buyers and exhibitors. With continued collaboration and innovative strategies, GAAN is playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of air travel and tourism in the region.

No doubt that the 2024 Meetings Africa edition was a great success for Gauteng and Africa’s business and tourism landscape. The event has not only solidified Gauteng’s reputation as an economic powerhouse but also as a catalyst for growth, opening doors to new opportunities and forging lasting partnerships that will shape the future of business in Africa for years to come.

Mr Barba Gaoganediwe is the Head of Destination Marketing & Communication at the Gauteng Tourism Authority