Africa Aims for Higher ICCA Rankings

Event Africa Contributor 04/06/2020 Uncategorized

Kigali (left) placed 2nd in the 2019 Africa rankings. Insights by Esmaré Steinhofel (right).

A few short weeks ago, the annual ICCA City and Country Rankings were released for 2019.

South Africa continues to dominate in hosting African association meetings, while new players like Rwanda are growing their market share rapidly. We speak to Esmaré Steinhofel the Regional Director Africa of ICCA, the International Congress & Convention Association, to find out where opportunities lie for our industry.

According to the 2019 City and Country Rankings Report, South Africa and Cape Town keep their first-place position on the continent, and for the second year in a row, Kigali in Rwanda has followed suite at number two.   

ICCA statistics are often quoted with the silent knowledge that the criteria for the rankings is based on a conference having a minimum of 50 people, and, most importantly, that association conferences rotate between three countries – such as the Pan African Society of Cardiology, for instance.

Africa on the Up and Up

The African continent keeps striving for the recognition it deserves on the global scale as it grows exponentially. In the previous year, Africa hosted 415 association meetings as a whole thanks to the great efforts of various key convention bureaux, not to mention Rwanda rising to the challenge of growing its business events portfolio.

Esmaré Steinhofel explains this growth: “Rwanda Convention Bureau has dedicated and is proactively promoting the country as a Business Events Destination. As a destination, they have good business events infrastructure, hotels with conference facilities, Kigali Convention Centre, quality suppliers, and RwandaAir is also flying to more international destinations.”

With events still focussing mainly on Southern Africa and East African territories, there are a couple of cities we see rising to the occasion with plans of having ideal infrastructure or establishing their own dedicated convention bureaux. “The Kenya National Convention Bureau was established earlier in the year and Ethiopia is also in the process of establishing a CVB,” Esmaré adds, reassuring us that SA need not worry about competition at all. The country is likely to continue its foray into successfully hosting events in the short to long term. “South Africa has a National Convention Bureau as well as regional and city convention bureaux. Business events has been a focus for longer than other African countries.”

Looking to the Future

As we look towards a rather uncertain future for events globally, Esmaré has some simple advice for the business events sector on the continent once things are up and running again. “To increase the numbers for Africa, the continent must start to increase regional African association conferences,” she stresses. “Also, more convention bureaux need to be established to better promote countries as business events destinations versus leisure only.”

Disclaimer: Please note that these observations do not take the COVID-19 global pandemic into consideration, as they were compiled based on association meetings recorded prior to December 2019. For more information or to get more insight on ICCA’s global rankings, visit