AfDB willing to hold Annual Meetings in Ghana in future

African_flagsThe African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will hold one of its future Annual Meetings in Ghana if the country is ready to host it.

The Meetings is one of the flagship events of the Tunis-based Bank which normally attracts about 2500 officially invited persons.

According to an official of the Bank, any African member country of the AfDB has the right to send an official request to host the Meetings.

“Ghana can send official request and it will be considered by the Bank management,” Mohamed H’Midouche, Director of AfDB’s Decentralisation told April 25, 2013 on how the Bank considers a country’s request to host the AfDB Annual Meetings.

Explaining the process of chosing a country to host the Meetings, Mr H’Midouche stated that “When we receive a request, we do send a team to assess whether the conditions for organizing the Meetings are met or not. We need to have a suitable conference centre, enough accommodation for the participants.”

“We welcome Ghana’s request if the government would like to host one of our future annual meetings and it will be considered in due course,” he added.

Founded in 1964, the AfDB started operations in Ghana in 1973 and the country is considered as one of the key clients of the Tunis-based multilateral institutions but it is yet to host the Annual Meetings.

The AfDB holds its Meetings each May in every year. The 2013 Annual Meetings which is the Bank’s 48th will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, from May 27 to 31.

More than 2,500 delegates including finance ministers, central bank governors and CEOs from the institution’s 78 member countries will participate in the meetings, according to the AfDB.

Organised on the theme, “Africa’s Structural Transformation,” the gathering will review the Bank’s 2012 operations and its 2013 development funding portfolio, as well as challenges facing the Africa region in key areas such as climate change, infrastructure, private sector and governance.

Explaining why the AfDB sometime back held its annual meetings outside Africa, Mr H’Midouche said the Meetings help give the Bank “more visibility” in those countries which in turn allow its shareholders to know how the Bank’s operations are faring.

The Bank has held its Meetings in China, Spain and Portugal in the past, and Mr H’Midouche hinted a possibility to have future meetings outside the continent.

Ghana holding an AfDB Annual Meetings as well as other major international conferences will boost tourism.

For instance, South Africa is targeting to host more than 200 international conferences in the next five years, The Times reported in 2012 citing the country’s Tourism Minister Van Schalkwyk who was speaking at a conference of the Southern African Association of the Conference Industry.

He said 300,000 delegates are expected to arrive in the country bringing into the economy more than R1.6 billion approximately $195.3 million.

South Africa received 392,000 business travellers, of which 140,000 were meetings incentive, conference and events delegates.

Van Schalkwyk was quoted as saying that his department had set a target of 15 million international arrivals by 2020.

He said the SA National Convention Bureau was targeting 81,500 convention delegates and 130 association meetings by 2020.

For this to be achieved, South Africa had to increase the business events industry by 57%, he said.

He also said the department wanted to grow the average number of delegates attending international conventions in South Africa from an estimated 54,000 in 2012 to 78,000 by 2017.

According to him, hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the United Nations’ COP 17 Climate Change Conference had proved the country’s credentials.

The last time Ghana held a major international conference was in 2008 when the country hosted the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XIII Conference in Accra from 18 to 22 April 2008. It was the first time that the UN trade agency also held its first World Investment Forum (WIF) championed by former Ghanaian Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen.

The WIF has become one of the world’s leading international investment events, attracting over 1,800 participants from 120 countries including Heads of State and ministers, global CEOs, heads of international organizations and civil society.

By Ekow Quandzie in Tunis, Tunisia

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