African countries are spending millions of dollars trying to be your next destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, also known in tourism jargon as MICE. State-of-the-art convention centers are rising out of the African soil — and existing ones are being expanded and refurbished — to lure international companies to invest.
There’s a good chance business travelers to Africa — whether in finance, management, oil and gas, mining or media — will spend time at one of these convention centers. They are designed to show off the best in their country’s tourism, cultural and economic opportunities.
From Cape to Cairo, it’s all about investing in Africa. Check out some of the top convention centers in Africa for doing business
1. Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Located in the northern suburbs of Joburg, the Sandton Convention Centre is a popular destination for conferences. It hosts events as diverse as Africa Energy Indaba, Retail World Africa and the Whiskey Live Festival. It can seat 4,500 people, has 13 meeting rooms. Two exhibition levels have a combined space of 11,000 square meters (118,403 square feet).
2. Calabar International Convention Centre, Calabar, Nigeria
Scheduled opening dates have come and gone for what promises to be an amazing venue. The latest deadline is May 2015, according to the Calabar Convention Centre website. It’s hyped to be one of the largest and most modern conference venues in Africa. The total floor space will be 35,000 square meters (376,737 square feet), including 21 conference rooms, three lounges, and a capacity to hold 5,000 guests.
3. Africa Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
As the permanent headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, this venue might be the most important of the large centers in Africa. Though it is generally not used for business meetings, it’s an impressive structure with 205,000 square meters (2.2 million square feet) of floor area. The inside space spreads over seven floors.
4. Durban International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa
Also known as the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, this venue has hosted several famous conferences such as the International AIDS Conference and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It has 7,000 square meters (75,347 square feet) of space and a meeting room to accommodate 10,000 people.
5. Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
The tallest building on this list, the Kenyatta International Conference Centre is a 28-story building — the third tallest in Kenya — in the central business district of Nairobi. It has the largest conference chamber of its kind in East Africa with a capacity to hold 5,000 people. It also has an impressive 225,000 square meters (2.4 million square feet) of floor space.
6. Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Located in the largest city and business center of Tanzania, the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre is home to many conferences that relate to the southern tourist circuit of Tanzania. It can seat more than 1,000 people in its auditorium and has close to 2,000 square meters (21,527 square feet) in total space.
7. Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
Only open since 2003, Cape Town International Convention Centre has hosted numerous high-profile events such as the final draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, which featured Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and F.W. de Klerk. It also features jazz festivals and is credited with having world class facilities. It has 121,000 square meters of space. Expansion scheduled to begin in 2015 will add an additional 10,000 square meters (107,639 square feet) of convention space
8. Arusha International Conference Centre, Arusha, Tanzania
The Arusha International Conference Centre is 100 percent owned by the government of Tanzania and is the leading conference venue in the country. Past and present tenants include the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the East African community. It has 10 meeting rooms, total space of 5,420 square meters (58,340 square feet) and the theater can hold 1,313 people.
9. Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Cairo, Egypt
This convention centre is the largest in Egypt and is located in the bustling Cairo central business district. The main auditorium can accommodate up to 2,500 people and there are five exhibition halls with a total space of 20,000 square meters (215,278 square feet).
10. Expo Centre Johannesburg, South Africa
Rounding out our list is the largest convention center in South Africa and one of Johannesburg’s best known landmarks. The Expo Center Johannesburg is home to several big shows such as the Rand Show, Automechanika, and the Joburg Motor Show. The multipurpose exhibition halls have more 50,000 square meters (538,195 square feet) of space with an arena that can accommodate up to 20,000 people. If you need a massive place to host your conference, it’s hard to go wrong with the Expo Centre.