Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Intra country trade in Africa still a mirage

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom says the Meetings Africa event is important as it gives African countries an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer to the world.

Meetings Africa, the biggest business events trade show on the African continent, was celebrating its tenth anniversary in Johannesburg, South Africa this past week. The organisers of the show said on the sidelines that the event positions South Africa and the continent as a capable, experienced, strategic and the best business event destination of the world.

Hanekom used the opportunity to thank Meetings Africa’s partners and stakeholders for their support to a “trade show that has grown from strength to strength over the last decade to become the most accessible pan-African business events platform”. “Aptly, our theme is Advancing Africa Together. Collective effort is the way to go. In fact, it is essential if we all wish to continue on this robust growth path,” he said. He added that South Africa is “bullish about the future” of the business events industry.??It was further revealed that South Africa has already secured 177 major international association meetings for the next five┬áyears.

These meetings will have┬áan estimated economic impact of R 3.5 billion and will bring about 253,000┬ádelegates to South Africa. However, Hanekom┬ápointed out,┬áthe legacy impact of business events extends far beyond its numbers value.┬á“Business events and conventions are arteries for innovation and new thinking in the knowledge economy. This is where the best minds connect, where competitiveness in the global market place is redefined, and where we create platforms to collaboratively solve common global problems,” he explained.

Low intra-trade

However despite its success in holding the event over the past ten years, available trade figures shows that Africa remains the world’s only region where intra-country trade is at a paltry 10 percent. As a result, regional integration became the centre of heated debate at this year’s media faceoff held at the Meetings Africa.
Moderated by CNBC Africa anchor, Nozipho Mbanjwa, the session saw SA Tourism Chief Executive Thulani Nzima, ICCA President Nina Pretorius and Africa Business specialist Victor Kgomoeswana tackling various tourism and trade issues affecting the African continent. Key amongst the topics was the new South African Visa issue as well as cross border integration in the business events industry.

Kgomoeswana defended South Africa’s new Visa laws, saying they came as a result of the country’s sovereign right to protect its people. South Africa’s new immigration rules aim to balance the need for better security with the contribution migration makes to economic development and prosperity. Meanwhile Nzima confirmed to The Telegraph in an interview that a review panel has been established to look at the impact of the latest changes and this he hoped would yield positive outcomes for the affected countries. The new laws are expected to have a bearing on Botswana’s tourism sector as most travellers need to pass through South Africa. Botswana relies on South Africa’s air transportation sector as it does not have direct flights to Europe, Asia and America.

Despite the tourism sector’s potential for growth and contribution to the national economy, Botswana is still unable to retain up to 90 percent of revenue generated by the local tourism. According to statistics from Botswana Tourism, only 10 percent of the domestic tourism revenue is retained locally whilst the rest is claimed by foreign countries. ?A collaborative research work paper conducted by three international partners, the African Development Bank (AFDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) indicates that this is partly because the bulk of Botswana’s tourist bookings are handled in South Africa. ??

At the same time, Botswana’s tourism sector supply chain is foreign-dominated, a set up which is said to be contributing to the loss of revenue. As such the three organisations, regarded as Botswana’s strategic development partners calls for urgent reforms with a focus on management to ensure that a greater proportion of the tourism revenue is retained in the country. The sector is the second contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) after mining. For more than a decade, tourism has been punted as a game changer in the country’s economy. Sadly, that has not happened yet.

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