MKTE 2019: Kenya is Africa’s New Frontier for Business Tourism

Event Africa Contributor 04/10/2019 Uncategorized

Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) marks its 46th anniversary since its inception this year. It is an integral part of Kenya’s history and a companion that will define and shape the country’s future.

The fact is, no one really thinks of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, without the iconic building KICC lining the blue skies. It seems to have been part of the capital for eternity, having played host to both local and international meetings, summits, exhibitions and great world leaders and celebrities since 1973.

A Landmark of events

The Centre has played host to some landmark events that have contributed to the growth of the country. Its unique structure consists of a large plenary hall, with a tower that consists of a cylinder composed of several cuboids, as well as the amphitheatre and helipad that both resemble cones. The helipad/view tower offers a panoramic view of Nairobi’s skyline at a 360-degree angle. On a clear sky, one is able to see Mt. Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa.

It has space for all kinds of meetings including the amphitheatre, which can host over 1 000 participants sitting on three balconies surrounding the auditorium; the plenary hall, which remains the largest conference facility in East and Central Africa home to major international meetings, exhibitions and grand balls, with space for up to 5 000 people; the executive boardroom located on the first floor that is fully furnished, complete with a local area network, Internet and telephone lines.

It is also home to several well-lit and well-equipped meeting rooms with different capacities, Secretariat rooms for event organizers who require a local office close to meeting rooms, as well as a paved Courtyard ideal for outdoor functions, social events or ceremonies.

The COMESA grounds, which consist of expansive grounds overlooking the Kenyan Parliament is also part of KICC that hosts several outdoor events, exhibitions, galas, extravaganzas and concerts.

When it started its operations forty-six years ago, it became the venue for an international conference, the Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF, one of the first largest international conferences to take place in Africa. Since then, Kenya has developed its slot in the business tourism industry locally and internationally, which has seen it host other historical and high profile conferences and events including but not limited to:

  • The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Executive council meeting
  • The AGOA Forum
  • E.U. African Business Conference
  • Joe Biden Public address to the nation when he visited Kenya
  • 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO) 10th Ministerial conference
  • The 4th and 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • The 6 Tokyo International Conferences on African Development (TICAD).
  • The High Level Global Conference on Sustainable Blue economy

The Centre will be hosting:

  • Magical Kenya Travel Expo on 1st-5th October 2019
  • KRA Taxpayers Engagement on 1st-4th October 2019
  • Kenya Homes Expo on 8th-13th October 2019
  • Mental Health Conference on 8th-9th October 2019
  • Miss Universe Kenya Finals on 19th-20th October 2019
  • Innaugural African Association Summit on 21st-22nd October 2019
  • National water and sanitation conference 29th – 31st October 2019
  • International Conference on Population and Development 25 on 6th-17th November 2019
  • Expo India 2019 on 29th November-5th December 2019
  • China International Exhibition Centre -Overseas Exhibition on 26th December 2019
  • 9th African Caribbean pacific Heads of States Summit 6th – 10th December 2019
  • African Conference on Sexual Health & Rights conference 11th – 13th February 2020
  • Einstein 2020 forum 8th to 15th March 2020
  • 2020 African Water Security Congress 27th to 29th April 2020

This and other conferences that are in the pipeline are expected to boost the business tourism sector in Kenya.

From a Building to a Corporation Promoting Business Tourism

This beautiful architectural masterpiece and the icon of the country started its operations way back in 1973 just ten years after the country got independence. The Centre actually marked its 46th anniversary on 11th of September this year. However, it is now not just an iconic building with a unique shape at the heart of the city, but a state Corporation with a specialised mandate to promote and position Kenya as a Meetings, Incentive Travel Conferences and Exhibitions destination of choice also known as Business Events, thus its scope is national. KICC thus facilitates bids to attract international meetings and events to Kenya.

Business and conference tourism, or MICE, is part of Kenya’s vision 2030 flagship project being implemented by the Ministry Tourism, which is expected to complement other traditional forms of tourism like beach, bush and safari.

“Kenya has a large potential for MICE business as a major product, owing to its location and ease of international connections. Kenya’s Conference tourism is well placed and ready to offer a unique MICE package, combining business with pleasure, meetings and events and venues, all rolled up into one business tourism offering like none other, anywhere else,” says the KICC CEO and ICCA Africa Chapter deputy Chair, Nana Gecaga.

The country’s meetings industry market share trend has increased over the years in terms of the number of international meetings that have been held, with Nairobi being recently ranked the best conference tourism destination by World Travel Awards.

Nana adds that “This shows that Kenya has potential to attract even more international conferences and events to the East African region and the avenues for growth and business interactions are limitless.”

There is also another niche that KICC is exploring. The Centre has already positioned itself as a concerts venue attracting performances from a number of international artists. This is in an effort to make the KICC a vibrant venue just like all the other iconic buildings around the world as well as leverage on the artists as brand ambassadors to market the destinations to the world.

Defining Kenya’s Future Through Business Events

For quite a time, Kenya has maintained a firm grip globally as among the topmost preferred tourist destination, thanks to its diverse and unique blend of tourist attraction products that range from breath-taking sceneries, diverse cultures and people; to, wildlife, beaches, natural and man-made attraction points. Hotel and accommodation facilities also play an important role.

KICC through MICE is already promoting business tourism in counties, which will reposition Kenya as the preferred global tourism destination.

So far, the meetings industry’s performance in global ranking has been impressive. KICC and in collaboration with our Mother Ministry of Tourism together with industry stakeholders will continue to strive to position Kenya as a preferred destination in business tourism.

To keep abreast with the industry, KICC is a member of a number of international bodies including International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), United World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), International Association of Congress Centers (AIPC) among others.

Event Africa is at Magical Kenya Travel Expo doing the show’s electronic daily news. For more information on MKTE, visit