Uganda hosted 1,000 conferences in 2017

Uganda hosted 1,000 conferences in 2017
The Solidarity Summit on Refugees was one of the high-level meetings held in Kampala

Uganda’s major towns of Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja hosted over 1,000 high-level meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) in 2017.

According to the 2017 Uganda Market Update by real estate consultancy Knight Frank Uganda, Kampala alone had 744 confirmed high-profile conferences between December 2016 and July 2017, while Entebbe had eight and Jinja 279, giving a cumulative figure of 1,031.

The update does not factor in conferences from August to December, suggesting the total figure for 2017 is higher. The report, however, does not indicate how many high-profile meetings and conferences took place for the period.

Usually, high-end meetings like the Solidarity Summit on Refugees are fewer, suggesting most Ugandan meetings are local or regional. In 2016, Kampala held 10 high-end meetings, according to the International Congress and Convention Association, which indexes conventions countrywide.

Uganda has few hotels or convention centres with the capacity to host large number of participants. They include, among others, hotels like Sheraton, Serena, Speke and Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo, Africana, Pearl of Africa and the Imperial chain of hotels, Protea and Golden Tulip.

In 2016, the Knight Frank update states that Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja, the most closely knit towns with the most number of hotels and other hospitality facilities, had 1,600 conferences, both local and international, attended by over 46,000 people.

A number of countries are now looking at meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions or MICE as one way of attracting visitors and generating much needed foreign exchange. This year, Rwanda, for example, set a target of $64 million from MICE, up from $47 million the previous year.

Rwanda’s success is attributed to aggressive marketing, including of its tourism potential, and establishment of world-class properties like the Kigali International Convention centre, Marriot hotel and Radisson Blu hotel, to mention but a few.

The 2016 International Congress and Convention Association’s statistics report mentions South Africa as the number one destination for meetings in Africa, notching 125 high-end meetings. Morocco followed with 37, Egypt, Kenya and Rwanda with 18 apiece, Ghana 13, Ethiopia 12, Nigeria 11 and Uganda and Tanzania tying at 10 high-level meetings each.

Globally, the 2016 MICE report showed the United States of America holding the most number of high profile meetings, followed by Germany, United Kingdom, France and Spain. On a city-by-city basis, Paris led, followed by Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin and London.