The borderless markets created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are valued at around $3.4 trillion in GDP, providing a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated market of over 1.3 billion people. This was a key message at the Embassy Markets Spotlight Briefing held by global event company DMG events at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg recently. Attended by a 50-strong audience of ambassadors, trade attaches and trade promotion agencies, the breakfast meeting focused on facilitating inbound trade and investment from across the world to the African market through events and exhibitions. It also provided a platform to update key stakeholders of current trade market opportunities and the value of events in securing market access to the continent.
„The ripple effect that an exhibition creates in that sector, city, region and continent, is tenfold, but regularly undervalued.“
Projeni Pather, founder and managing director at Exposure Marketing and an Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) board member, said she believed exhibitions to be the most powerful marketing platform and facilitator of trade. New 2022 figures from The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) also reveal a far-reaching impact in Africa, highlighting the existence of 43,000 exhibiting companies, 1 million square metres of exhibition space used, and over 2.2 million event visitors drawn to the continent. This has contributed $0.6 billion in direct spending, $0.3 billion in direct GDP, and 8,600 jobs created. She added that while the impact on the total economy of participating at an exhibition is often underestimated. "The ripple effect that an exhibition creates in that sector, city, region and continent, is tenfold, but regularly undervalued." Francois Fouche, research associate at the Centre for African Markets and Management, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, provided guests with an update on the implementation of the AfCFTA. "We are only one year into what will be a multi-year process." Most importantly, he said it was government's role to take the big decisions to create an enabling environment, and then move aside to allow business to happen. Portfolio director at DMG Events Evan Schiff, said: "Accessing the African market requires a presence in Africa, and face-to-face meetings are highly valued as a means to build solid, long-term business relationships."