Ghana’s relationship with the diaspora, being the converging point for African-Americans tracing their ancestry to the continent – and Accra as the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is a major springboard for the country to grow its Meetings, Incentives Conferences and Events (MICE) subsector, President Akufo-Addo has said.
The MICE industry comprises business tourism and forms about 10 percent of the overall global tourism sector, and Ghana has been making efforts to grow this aspect of tourism which attracts about five times regular tourists’ expenditure.
In a speech read by Senior Presidential Advisor Mr. Osafo Marfo, on behalf of the President at the just-ended Kusi Ideas Festival held on December 10-11 in Accra, he said: “Ghana, over the past few years, has positioned itself as the meetings hub of the sub-region, and hosting the Kusi Ideas Festival is in keeping qwith the country’s plans to attract a chunk of the MICE tourism market on the continent”.
Indeed, tourism stakeholders have projected that upcoming key infrastructure developments, including the National Cathedral and reconstruction of the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre in Accra, will be game-changers in the country’s MICE tourism landscape.
But President Akufo Addo said a more notable indicator in the quest to make a statement as to Ghana’s readiness as a hub for MICE is leveraging Accra as the headquarters of AfCFTA, with the capital, currently positioned as the major converging point for the Black diaspora in doing business and investing in Africa.
He commended the Kusi Ideas Festival organiser – the Nations Media Group – for bringing the festival to Ghana this year, adding: “Ghana stands as one of the places of modern African enlightenment – and one of the continent’s functioning liberal democracies, strongly managing ravages of the pandemic with many interventions which benefit its citizens.”
Commenting on how the country was able to tackle the pandemic, the President said the key policies of distributing free PPE and food – as well as provision of grants and funds to small businesses, has greatly transformed and mitigated impacts of the pandemic.
The Kusi Ideas Festival began three years ago as an initiative of the Nations Media Group. It is a pan-African platform to examine the continent’s place in the world, its citizens, problem-solving ideas and innovations, and how these prepare Africans to deal with coming challenges which confront the world.
The inaugural festival was hosted by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in 2019, and was under the theme ‘The next 60 years in Africa’.
The event, in Accra this year, was on the theme ‘How Africa Transforms After the Virus’.