African Exhibition Industry Outlook: Unlocking untapped opportunities in Africa

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, in partnership with GL Events South Africa, and in collaboration with the African Association of Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) will be organising the Africa Exhibition Industry Outlook on 13 September 2022.

Africa, today, accounts for around 17% of the world’s population. The world’s youngest and fastest-urbanising continent, Africa will have 24 million more people, on average, living in its cities each year between 2015 and 2045 – more than India and China combined.[1]

These figures reinforce the importance of investing in Africa as a sustainable corporate strategy for foreign investors due to the countless opportunities available across sectors – especially the exhibitions industry which facilitates and drives intercontinental collaboration between Africa and the rest of the world.

The one-day workshop and seminar for the African Exhibition Industry Outlook will feature expert speakers from across Africa and the Middle East, including the multi-award-winning journalist and author Bruce Whitfield, whose keynote will draw on fascinating, truth-defying, and inspiring case studies of people and businesses that succeed against the odds.

Other industry panellists will present business opportunities in key African markets, business outlooks, incentive schemes for new entrants, and bilateral cross-border collaboration. Topics of discussion will include how convention bureaus support the industry in South Africa, the economic impact of exhibitions both globally and in Africa, a multinational view on investing in Africa and a presentation of the findings of UFI’s Global Barometer Study with a focus on Africa and the Middle East.

Naji El Haddad, Regional Director MEA at UFI, says: “Africa represents the next frontier for growth and development for the exhibitions industry. There is great potential for investing in, developing and bringing global events to Africa. It’s particularly interesting to note the launch of geo-adapted events that are being brought to Africa, which is a testament to the ever-increasing confidence and opportunities available on the continent.”

Whilst the pandemic directly affected the events industry, interesting mergers and acquisitions noted in the past two years include RX Global’s acquisition of two specialized exhibitions; the Media 10 Design Joburg and the Coffee and Chocolate Expo®.

Additionally, dmg Events, with a footprint spanning 25 countries – acquired Addis Build at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal to support growth across multiple industries in Ethiopia. Further, the African arm of Clarion Events announced a full rebrand under the name Vuka Group earlier this year to form an independent B-BBEE compliant company, adapted to the unique conditions of Africa.

“We are delighted to be hosting this UFI event at the Johannesburg Expo Centre to showcase the commercial opportunities that South Africa, with the rest of Africa, have to offer. Our nation is well positioned from all aspects to be a hub for global events”, adds Craig Newman, Group CEO at GL Events SA.

The workshop will be hosted on Tuesday, 13 September at the Johannesburg Expo Centre and is organised by UFI in collaboration with AAXO, hosted by GL Events, and supported by Johannesburg Tourism.

“South Africa remains the ideal gateway to Africa’ and is an appropriate base of operations from which economic connection to the rest of the continent can be formed and business developed thanks to its strong financial sector, sound infrastructure and competitive talent-pool,” concludes Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of AAXO.

For more information on the upcoming workshop, view the full programme, and to RSVP for the no-fee event, visit