The Business Development Manager, Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau, a Division of WESGRO Group, Londi Khumalo, has stated that the group would continue to facilitate trade, knowledge exchange, technology transfer, shared economic growth, jobs and the growth of the sectors such as the business tourism sector between Nigeria and South Africa.
Khumalo disclosed this recently in Lagos at the workshop that hosted organisations operating in the MICE industries (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions which was organised by South Africa National Convention Burea (SANCB) in collaboration with the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Centre Bureau represented by the South African Tourism Board in Nigeria a division of SA Tourism Organisation.
She also stated that from a governmental perspective, the priority for the group is to ensure, whatever conferences that they are hosting would facilitate the trade between the two countries and the primary focus of this collaboration is to promote shared economic growth, employment opportunities, and the development of the tourism sector, particularly in the areas of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.
The government’s priority is to ensure that these conferences facilitate trade and growth in networks while boosting economic priority sectors in both countries.
She further explained, the group is facilitating the growth in networks, and economic priority sectors, adding that, some of the things they have done to show that Nigeria is a priority market is the South African Tourism Office for West Africa which is based in Lagos, and the focus is to continue to foster collaborations which they have seen over the years.
According to her, “We hope we will continue collaborating with new government in Nigeria to ensure that South Africans tap into investments and business opportunities in Nigeria and also hope that Nigerians do business with South Africans. So going forward, that is the tone in which we would like to proceed and just make sure that for both countries it is really beneficial to host conferences and trade across the different economic sectors perspective. So, we rely heavily on our embassies to facilitate that process for businesses that are validated that qualify and meet the criteria of the embassies.
“Other additional areas of collaboration with the new government are that, from a governmental level, we will facilitate ease of travel, and ease of doing business within the two countries.
“I think from the level of the Chamber of commerce, the Nigerian and South African Chamber of Commerce plays a very important role especially how they provide platforms for South African businesses and for Nigerian businesses to connect.
“The Chamber of Commerce understands the opportunities that lie between the two countries. On our part, we intend to continue to come back into the markets and as we go, you know, constantly meet with different stakeholders from the travel side and look at opportunities of collaboration.”
In his remarks, Executive Secretary, Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Iyke Ejimofor, said comparatively South Africa is more developed than Nigeria especially in the areas of technology and other sectors, adding that though Nigeria has the population which encourages trade.
He also noted that an important factor is that Nigeria and South Africa have in common a historic opportunity in collaboration and driving success in Africa as it were,
He added that the chamber creates a common forum where South African and Nigeria businesses can meet and lock into opportunities for businesses exchange, technology transfer and partnerships which have been available since 23years of the chamber establishment.
Londi further explained Nigeria is one of the largest economies on the continent and Nigeria has a very great role and position that it can actually leverage to become a hub of MICE itself on the destination.
Continuing Londi stated: “We are already aware that there’s a lot of conferences that do take place in Nigeria and in order to enhance itself, I do think in terms of packaging itself as a destination and Nigeria has a great culture and therefore should also highlight some of the cultural opportunities that people can experience while in the destination platforms. Then you also have venues that are world-resourceful.”
WESGRO Nigeria Business and Trade Events Facilitator, Margaret ChiChi Nkire, revealed that Nigeria is a large market for growth in the Africa’s MICE industry which has huge potentials to grow.
She added that the workshop has set a precedent for MICE business operators in Nigeria to harness the invaluable opportunities unveiled in terms of the benefits participants stands to gain that will help foster business tourism and trade relations between both countries.
She said: “These will in turn drive economies in terms of employment opportunities, infrastructure development, ICT/Digital economy and all these, are in line with Nigeria’s objective to become one of Africa’s top suppliers of value-added goods and services through the implementation of the eight pillars of the National Action Committee on the AfCFTA of which one of them is to improve trade facilitation.
“In lieu of meeting countries objectives for AFCFTA, as an event workshop facilitator, we ensure that participants get the best value in these events and we strive to build a thriving network of business operators while boosting business tourism.
“At the workshop, we had in attendance business operators from across the MICE industry such as ;destination companies, professional international conference and events organizers SME’s, youths, women and entrepreneurs in travel and tourism and MICE industry suppliers.”
Also in attendance, the workshop had; Acting Consul-General, South African Consulate in Lagos, Ms. Busisiwe Dlamini, Acting Consul General:Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa in Lagos, Ms.Sebo Lenyai Consul: Political Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa in Lagos, Regional Head West Africa:South Africa Tourism Board, Thekiso Rakolojane; Trade Relations Manager, West Africa:South Africa Tourism Board, Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa; and representative from South Africa Airways, Mr.Haruna Rabiu and Opeoluwa Anjola.