For centuries Africa has been seen as “the dark continent” and while it cannot be denied that in some of the 54 countries on the continent there are still major problems, there is another truth about the continent. According to the World Bank, by 2025 most African countries will reach "middle-income" status if current growth rates continue. Outstripping both Europe and America, in 2019 Africa’s growth rate is expected to accelerate to 4%.
Specifically looking to the MICE industry, it’s being predicted that demand for meetings and events on the continent will rise somewhere between 5% and 10% in 2019. This development and growth has not occurred spontaneously, with many countries preparing and working hard to achieve it - and looking at some of Africa’s best conferencing and events venues, this is clear.
Cape Town International Convention Centre
A multi-purpose conference and exhibition centre in the hub of Cape Town’s business and entertainment district, with a 11 200 m2 floor space, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) offers a comprehensive array of services for international and locally based clients. With multiple spaces including a 1 500-seat raked auditorium, a 620-seat raked auditorium, a 1 500-seat ballroom and 33 breakaway rooms able to seat between 25 and 330, the CTICC is known for being the venue of Africa’s biggest jazz festival, the Cape Town Jazz Festival.
Durban International Convention Centre
Opened by Nelson Mandela in 1997, the Durban International Convention Centre (Durban ICC), formally named the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre Complex in 2006, offers 112 000 m² of floor space in South Africa’s East Coast sub-tropical paradise. Composed of an arena, hotel, convention and exhibition centre, the Durban ICC has been the venue for major events like the 2000 and 2016 International Aids Conference and the United Nations’ COP17.
Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre Kigali
Opened in 2016, the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre, Kigali is the premium events and MICE destination in Central and East Africa. Spanning more than 80 000 m2, the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre can host more than 5 000 delegates at a time and contains facilities for business, leisure, and events. Boasting world-class technology, the multi-faceted award-winning design of the centre is a clear reference to the culture and traditions of Africa with the dome shape auditorium reproducing a traditional hut in the King's Palace, while the 291-room Radisson Blu Hotel’s architectural façade replicates a traditional and colourful weaved basket. The focus the Rwandan government has placed on MICE tourism through initiatives such as all travelers being issued visas upon arrival has made the Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre a highly attractive venue for international events like The Global African Investment Summit and the African CEO Forum.
Kenyatta International Convention Centre
At 28 storeys and opened in 1973, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is both the tallest and oldest building on this list. Despite its age, thanks to revamps and refurbishments over the years, the KICC is still known as a leading meeting venue in Nairobi and is able to host up to 5 000 delegates across its 225 000m2 of floorspace. The Tsavo ballroom has the capacity to host over 4 000 delegates and is the largest conference chamber of its kind in East Africa.
Calabar International Convention Centre
Opened in 2015, the Calabar International Convention Centre is Nigeria’s first purpose-built MICE facility. Being located in a Free Trade Zone exempts the Calabar International Convention Centre’s exhibitors and conference organisers from paying VAT and a raft of other Nigerian State taxes. Including 21 conference rooms, three lounges, and a capacity to hold 5 000 guests, the centre has a total floor space of 35 000m2.
Sandton Convention Centre
No list of Africa’s conventions centres would be complete without the Sandton Convention Centre, found in Africa’s economic hub, Johannesburg. In “the richest square mile in Africa”, the Sandton Convention Centre has 22 000m2 of floor space spread over four main levels with multiple venues ranging from an intimate 10-seat function room to the grand Pavilion which can comfortably cater for 4 500 cocktail guests.