The Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Kenya will be hosting a trade meet next week. Already, eight of the top hotels around the city, including Hilton, Norfolk and Serena, are fully booked, a week to the global event that opens on Wednesday afternoon.President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to formally open the meeting, whose key agenda item is how poor countries like Kenya could export their agricultural produce such as coffee.
After the inspection of the preparations of the venue of the scheduled conference at KICC, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the preparations were 98 per cent complete. “This is the biggest conference ever to be hosted in Sub-Saharan Africa and we are not taking chances in ensuring that we meet the international standards,” said the CS.
He termed the conference as an eye-opener of other upcoming conferences and added that Kenya has what it takes to host huge meetings.
“We expect an average delegate spend of Sh375,000, this should inject approximately Sh2.6 billion to the economy through the multiplier effect,” he added.
KICC Chairman Omingo Magara said they are ready to host the conference. “We were asked to prepare several meeting rooms including the biggest that can sit 7,000; I can say we are now ready,” said Magara.
About Sh200 million has been spent in the preparations and acquisition of conference equipment which includes sound amplification and simultaneous interpretation systems used in translating speeches to several languages.
Some 167 nationalities are expected at the conference, including Liberia and Afghanistan – two countries whose membership will formally be endorsed in the Nairobi meeting. Organizers are looking to book more than 4,000 delegates for at the three nights or more in the 56 government-approved hotels around Nairobi. At a conservative daily rate of $150 per person for a standard room, the country could earn Sh200 million from hospitality alone. Other segments anticipated to draw a direct benefit from the conference are in souvenirs, transport and taxi businesses.
Some of the delegates have confirmed extending their stay beyond the conference, and opted to extend their visit to Christmas, according to the Foreign Affairs ministry. “The earnings from hosting this conference here are huge for Kenya,” said Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. The meeting brings together ministers drawn from member countries of the World Trade Organization, to provide a platform for negotiating agreements that guide international trade and level the playing field.
It is the tenth round under the Doha Development Round that started in 2001, before discussion being fronted by poor countries on critical items surrounding agricultural exports flopped.