The COVID-19 crisis not only triggered short-term economic shocks during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, but also long-term economic damage in 2021 and beyond. Through job and income losses, business closures and reduced investment flows across sectors, the pandemic has left many African industries in need of a financial boost. Accordingly, African-hosted energy events can play a vital role in attracting and reinvesting foreign capital, spurring job creation and revitalizing foundational economic sectors, including tourism, hospitality, transportation and infrastructure.
The pandemic, in conjunction with government restrictions intended to stop the spread of the virus, directly hindered economic activity across multiple sectors in Africa – predominantly those related to tourism and events. Lockdowns, non-essential service restrictions and travel bans resulted in company closures and employee redundancies, leading to a rise in unemployment continent-wide. In South Africa, the employment rate decreased from 46% to 36% and GDP fell by 51% from Q1 to Q2 2020. As countries now begin to reopen their economies, enabled by widespread vaccination campaigns, African energy events hold the unique opportunity to facilitate economic recovery, as evidenced by the rollout of events in 2021/2022 by Energy Capital & Power (ECP) – the continent’s premier investment promotion platform.
The events sector in Africa has long-been a major contributor to economic revenue, driving international visitors to emerging conference destinations across the continent. Events such as ECP’s flagship Cape Town Conference & Exhibition have not only attracted foreign visitors to African venues on an annual basis, but also enhanced socio-cultural tourism in the process. According to the South Africa National Convention Bureau, 30% of all delegates attending an international business event in South Africa in 2019 participated in pre- and post-event tourism activities for an average duration of 3.5 days. With African venues positioning themselves as attractive event destinations – and local tourism industries in need of an economic boost – ECP aims to generate economic growth through a 2021 events calendar that will see small-scale events in Angola, South Africa and Senegal.
The economic benefits of locally-held events transcend tourism and transportation sectors, though – also serving to directly inject capital into other facets of the local economy. Both small- and large-scale events require a substantial number of products and services, acquired through local suppliers. Already, capital expenditure is being directed towards the local economy in which the event is taking place, creating a multiplier effect of revenue that is reinvested into the economy by each company along the events value chain. By bringing in foreign capital through regional and international delegate attendance, as well as ensuring the utilization of local companies, event organizers like ECP can contribute to economic growth and recovery.
Considering the economic contribution of energy events in Africa, the value of Africa-hosted events in 2021 has never been more significant. In addition to capital generation, events have an important role to play through job creation. According to the South African Department of Tourism, 11% of tourism businesses in South Africa made some or all of their staff redundant by April 2020. What’s more, the World Bank indicates that the pandemic pushed up to 40 million people into extreme poverty. By ensuring energy events take place in Africa in 2021, companies such as ECP will open up critical job opportunities across multiple sectors – including, but not limited to, accommodation, food, transportation, performance and infrastructure industries.
Accordingly, energy events have the potential to invest millions into local economies, without even measuring the direct revenue generated by the event. The African energy industry comprises one of the richest sectors in Africa, and with many African countries on the precipice of an energy sector revolution – driven by recent oil and gas discoveries and a move towards clean energy solutions – ECP seeks to drive foreign direct investment at its energy-focused events.
In a bid to direct critical investment to African markets and accelerate a post-COVID-19 recovery in 2021 and beyond, ECP has established a robust event calendar for 2021/2022 against a backdrop of economic resumption and vaccine rollouts across the continent. With a successful South Sudan Oil & Power 2021 conference in the books – along with three more in-person energy investment events planned in Angola, Senegal and South Africa – ECP is committed to shaping and driving Africa’s economic growth and recovery.