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January 26, 2017

Sub-Saharan Africa: Meetings Africa Flies the Sustainability Flag High

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As the new year begins, it is once again time for the premier business events trade show on the continent, Meetings Africa. This year, the event takes place from 27 February to 1 March and will place the spotlight on sustainability and innovation. Meetings Africa gives exhibitors in the business events industry a platform to showcase their products and services to hundreds of buyers and event planners – not to mention countless opportunities to network with key decision makers. 

“The theme is a critical component of the work that our industry does, which of course, is way beyond tourism. While Meetings Africa has previously shown its commitment to sustainability by introducing the use of low cost energy, eco-friendly material, recycled paper and being carbon footprint conscious, the goal this year is to expand the overall conversation and see sustainability as a business value and a means of transforming lives,” says Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism.

For the last four years Meetings Africa has championed greening, and has won the Best Green Exhibition Award from the Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa (EXSA). 2016 also saw an 11% increase in international and regional hosted buyers, 274 exhibitors and 16 countries represented. Building on last year’s success, the show will once again bring the best of local and international industry minds to the Sandton Convention Centre. We can look forward to BONDay, the prestigious Opening Ceremony of the exhibition, and a number of high-profile speakers. 


Business Opportunities Networking Day, better known as BONDay, will feature a combination of local, regional and global speakers with knowledge on an array of topics affecting the business events industry. The day is designed to equip the industry, provide educational sessions and impart new trends that will further their business. The IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum will take place once again, with top tourism students competing for the International University challenge. The Event Greening Forum will hold its Annual General Meeting, while Exhibitor Training will also take place in conjunction with the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI). The ICCA Africa Chapter Meeting will also take place in the late afternoon, bringing the day to a close. 

Exhibition Day 1

Tuesday, 28 February, will see the annual live SABC broadcast of the Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, officially opening the exhibition floor for trading. Thereafter delegates can join the Meet-Up Session, a speed marketing event for corporates and exhibitors. Pre-scheduled appointments will, of course now take place for the next two days as hosted buyers and exhibitors interact with visitors. Minister Hanekom’s official walkabout on the exhibition floor is not to be missed, while later in the day a panel discussion on key business events matters in Africa will take place. Delegates can look forward to meeting and greeting their fellow deal-makers at the official Welcome Function

Exhibition Day 2

As Meetings Africa winds to a close, delegates will be working through the last of their pre-scheduled appointments today. From 9am to 3pm another Meet-Up Session will take place, where corporate buyers can interact with exhibitors and a speaker platform. Before the day ends, the annual Green Stand Awards will take place, recognising the top exhibition stands at this year’s event.

Top Greening Tips

Green is so much more than a friendly colour. This year Meetings Africa will be ramping up on their green initiatives, making this one of the most sustainable business events in the country. Here’s a look at how delegates, hosted buyers and exhibitors can get involved: 

  • Offset your carbon footprint by purchasing a tree for only ZAR120 (excl. VAT). After the event, trees will be planted in a local community in partnership with Food & Trees for Africa
  • Choose energy-efficient technology for your stand – LED lighting or energy efficient plasma screens.
  • Car pool to reduce your carbon footprint if you’re travelling in from out of town. Make use of the Gautrain and shuttle services, too. 
  • If you choose to have rolled carpeting at your stand, this can be donated to a charity after the show. 
  • Avoid having printed hand-outs at your stand – share information electronically instead.
  • If you’re planning on giving gifts at your stand, opt for something locally produced that will support the South African economy. 
  • Choose an eco-friendly design and materials for your stand; and for shell-schemes, try some eco-friendly accessories or graphics printed on fabric for reuse in future. 
  • Select indigenous and locally grown plants to beautify your stand. These include Yellowwod, Natal Mahogany, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Chlorophytum. 
  • Opt for filtered tap water rather than bottled water. A ZAR10 surcharge will be charged on all bottled water, the proceeds of which will be donated to the event’s carbon-offset programme.
  • Use the recycle bins at the show and encourage other to do so, too. 


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