Meetings Africa 2019 got off to a vibrant start as experts from the business events sector shared their ideas and expertise on the aptly named BONDay, or Business Opportunity Networking Day.
Collaboration for African growth was all the talk as regional and local speakers shared knowledge on a variety of topics affecting the business events industry. Some of the topics included exploring the MICE industries trends and innovation, the value of academic and professional qualifications and using future technologies to tap into new business opportunities. BONDay is designed to equip the industry by providing educational sessions and tools to grow businesses in our continent, thus creating value for exhibitors.
South Africa’s mountaineer extraordinaire, Sibusiso Vilane, started proceedings by recalling his first conquest of Mount Everest in 2003. Vilane is the first African to scale Everest and the first to complete the Seven Summits challenge.
He said if Africa is to take the economy to new heights, self-belief and teamwork will be key. When he was climbing Everest for the first time, the team shared a common vision, one that transcended their backgrounds. “You’ve got to team up with people who share the same vision and end goal. Most important thing is to put our energies together.”
For Vilane, the above sentiment captures the spirit of Shared Economies – the theme for Meetings Africa 2019. “We have to know the challenges will always be there but if we fight for it we will do it.”
Shared Economies is a tool for collaborative African growth. It builds on the theme from last year with a specific focus on regionalisation as a continental strategy, and how this enhances the positioning and value offering for the business events Industry in Africa.
Mentorship can aid collaboration
Part of a successful collaboration includes mentorship, according to the co-founder of Mentor a Boy Child, Sydney Mbhele. Having not had mentors in his life, he sought advice and wisdom from numerous people he would come across.
This led him to believe in the power of good mentorship. “There is so much strength and wisdom you can draw from many people. I enjoyed using them to gain the wisdom.”
He said the lack of mentors in South Africa has resulted in many young men and women leading aimless lives. He believes if they were given the right guidance, they would be better off.
Accountability and unity are the keys to success
At the closing plenary on how Africa can win as a destination through collaboration, Deputy Director General of Economic Operations at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Rashid Toefy, said the business events industry has the opportunity to put Africa on the map. “It is the biggest consumer market that is untapped and hopefully this can lead to economic growth. We do co-ordination well, but we do not actually do collaboration.”
Kwakye Donkor, the non-executive director of African Institute of Technology, said collaboration requires strong leadership. “To bring the MICE sector that is comparable to the rest of the world, we all have to sing from the same hymn sheet and I do not think that is happening.”
Nelly Mukazayire, Rwandan economist and public administrator, said that collaboration is possible through sound leadership and political. “Everything [Rwanda] achieved since the genocide is through accountability and unity.
“Be decisive and innovative in selling the destination. We have seen that home grown solutions are something that easily adapted.”