The 2022 business events year in review

by Editorial Team
8 minutes read

The year 2022 turned out to be a way better one when compared with the previous two which were characterised by lockdowns, travel restrictions and stringent Covid-19 safety precautions. This resulted in some shows and other events, which had been postponed in 2020 and 2021, being held again.

The period under review also saw new events being introduced to the market and new suppliers to the industry coming onto the scene.


The opening of the economy following the relaxation of some of the Covid-19 safety protocols enabled the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company to hold the trade fair during its traditional April slot. The previous years it had been forced to hold the event in September while in 2020 it had to forgo the high-profile exhibition altogether due to the pandemic.

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The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society was able to hold a fully-fledged Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in August and September after two years of holding a smaller version of the event which was reduced to a largely business-only exhibition that was held as late as October as was the case in 2020.

The relaxed pandemic regulations enabled the Agricultural Dealers and Manufacturers Association (ADMA) to resume its annual exhibition, the ADMA Agrishow, at the Borrowdale Racecourse, which has been the venue of the event since 2019. The event was so successful that a total of 180 exhibitors participated in the exhibition. The association could not hold the event in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another major show which returned to the national business events arena in a face-to-face format after the pandemic during the period under review is the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)’s Sanganai/Hlanganani – World Tourism Expo. This was held in September after two virtual editions in 2020 and 2021. It was one of the most successful events as a total of 270 exhibitors participated against a targeted figure of 250.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of district and provincial shows could not be held. Things were different this time around as most of the shows, the majority of which fall under the National Association of Agricultural Show Societies of Zimbabwe (NAASZ), were held.

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair also returned with a two-day event as opposed to its usual six-day programme after a two-year pandemic-induced break.

A new exhibition was introduced to the market when the ZITF Company partnered with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development to come up with the inaugural Africa Infrastructure and Built Environment Confex (AfriConfex). The confex, which targets buyers and sellers for the entire built environment value chain, was held in October and is set to be an annual event.

Conferences and other meetings

During the period under review, a number of annual and once-off meetings were successfully held as organisers took advantage of the relaxation of the pandemic restrictions. The resumption of global travel also enabled people to attend international stand-alone and concurrent meetings and conferences. This setup enabled Zimbabweans and global delegates to attend meetings that accompany major exhibitions such as the ZITF, Sanganai/Hlanganani – World Tourism Expo and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show.

Professional and business associations, which had not been able to hold face-to-face annual meetings were able to hold their annual conferences. For example, the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ), which for the two previous years held its annual Marketers Convention as a hybrid event, was not only able to hold it in a face-to-face format this time around but held it as a continental event following its nomination to host the inaugural African Marketing Confederation (AMC) Conference. The event was successfully held in Victoria Falls in October.

Other different professional and business bodies held their annual meetings under near-normal conditions. These included the Call Centre Association of Zimbabwe (CCAZ)’s Customer Experience Convention.


If anything business events in nature was topical in 2022, it was awards events. The discourse was around the way some award organisers were handling their events. The market complained about how some organisers’ nomination, selection and judgement criteria and information were opaque. It seems their processes prioritised money more than merit as some people were offered awards on the condition of paying for them by buying “tables” during the award ceremonies.

Some people felt that awards had lost their main purpose of recognising and rewarding achievers in various fields of endeavour. They opined that awards had degenerated into a money-making scheme which fed off Zimbabweans’ love for titles and accolades. Other complaints had to do with what other events professionals and business executives said was the poor quality of business events in Zimbabwe. This was attributed to poor pitching by event organisers and fear of accepting novel event concepts on the part of business executives.

The view that awards have been bastardised into money-making scams seemed to be vindicated by the number of new award events which were introduced to the market. This should, however, not be misconstrued to mean that all the new events were scams. The events market now knows who the rogue award event organisers are.

Some of the new award events included provincial ones. Mashonaland West Province broke new ground in this regard and was followed by the Harare Metropolitan Province. The Norton town community led by Ben Masikati, the Editor of the Norton Town Magazine introduced the Norton Town Awards (NOTAS), which were held in December. The Entrepreneurs Network of Zimbabwe (ENZ)’s Annual National Iconic Entrepreneurs Awards debuted on the local business events market in November.


The year also witnessed an increasing number of suppliers to the business events sector. Following the closure of Showmasters, a former subsidiary of Rooney’s and a major exhibition stand designer and supplier in Zimbabwe, in October 2021, the company’s former marketing manager, Makie Mbanje formed her own outfit, Showcase It, which suppliers exhibition stands and other event supplies and services. According to Mbanje, its first major gig was the ZITF in April this year.

If the advertisements on the Facebook social media platform are anything to go by, the year also witnessed an increasing number of small suppliers to the business event industry which is into supplies such as corporate wear and promotional materials.

Accommodation and venues

The year ended on a sad note as Kingdom Hotel in the tourist city of Victoria Falls is set to close down on 5 January following a tenure disagreement between the property owners, Makasa Sun, and African Sun, which was leasing the hotel since 1997. The 294-room hotel has a number of function rooms with the largest seating up to 150 people depending on the nature of the event.

Given that major conferences are held in tourist resorts, which afford delegates an opportunity to undertake other activities, there was a notable increase in the marketing of smaller venues in both cities and towns. In this regard, the Platinum Events Group opened an events venue, Stephano’s, in Harare’s Newlands suburb.

The year also saw the commencement of the construction of the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) African Trade Centre in Harare in September. The building will house 35 000 square metres of office space. It will also have a conference centre and exhibition facilities. Neither the details of the seating capacity of the conference facility nor the floor size of the exhibition space could be readily established. The building is expected to be ready by the beginning of 2025.

As the industry welcomes 2023, Business Events fervently hopes that the new year will enable business event stakeholders to register a meaningful recovery after two years of depressed activity. One hopes that the bad news of the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in some parts of China, which is already doing rounds, does not spell a relapse of the world back into the era of restricted movement and business.  

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