Kenya rises to third place in hosting Africa conferences

A skyline of Nairobi City. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya has jumped to third place on the continent in attracting international in-person meetings, in what has greatly boosted the country’s efforts to earn more in foreign exchange

This is according to findings by the the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings that show Kenya hosted 29 high-level global and continental conferences last year, moving the country to third from eighth place in 2022.

ICCA —a global agency that tracks international association meetings-- says that South Africa is the most attractive nation in Africa and hosted 98 high-level conferences last year followed by Rwanda at 32.

Globally, Kenya is now placed at position 58 from 80th place in 2022 when the country was behind neighbouring Tanzania which was placed 64th position.

The increase in conferences came in a year when tourism was Kenya’s best performing sector, valued at Sh572.2 billion.

Some of the major global events that Kenya hosted last year included the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly held in Nairobi in June and the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in September.

Nairobi hosted 21 meetings last year, behind Kigali at 31 while Johannesburg was first with 42 meetings.

The high number of international in-person conferences held in Nairobi is key to boosting the fortunes of hotels and other businesses, ultimately creating more jobs.

Most hotels have since 2020 been struggling to recover following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, where restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus led to closures as visitor numbers dried.

Kenya has over the years been keen to hoist the hospitality industry through wooing more visitors in the form of tourists and international meetings.

In January this year, Kenya became a visa-free country meaning all visitors can get the crucial travel document upon arrival.

While announcing the decision, President William Ruto said that the move would significantly increase Kenya’s attractiveness to visitors.

International arrivals into the country grew by 35.4 percent to 2,086,800 last year, according to official data from the Economic Survey, 2024.

The growth in visitors and valuation made tourism the best-performing of all the 21 sectors.

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