KICC hit hard as Corona takes heavy toll on Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 00:00 |
KICC is bestowed with the task of nurturing and promoting the country as a most preferred destination for Meetings, Incentives travel, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism. Photo/PD/File

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues to take its toll on Africa’s premier meeting destination, Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) as it reels under cancelled conferences, exhibitions and Annual General Meetings among others.

These events form the heartbeat of the centre’s income generating activities involving local, regional, continental and international organisations that were forced to cancel their meetings since the eruption of the deadly disease.

Upon confirmation of the first Covid-19 case in Kenya in March, booked events to end of May were immediately cancelled, and the end of such cancellations is not in sight as the threat persist.

The landmark KICC is considered the biggest and most favoured conferencing centre in East, Central and Horn of Africa region.

Its Construction was completed in 1973; with the opening ceremony occurring in September 1973 presided over by Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta.

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) was then made a State Corporation established under the Tourism Act. 2011 that came into operation on September 1, 2012.

Whereas the centre is known as a leading meeting venue in Nairobi, its national mandate following the coming into force of Tourism Act 2011, became to nurture and promote the country as a destination most preferred for Meetings, Incentives travel, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism.

With uncertainty still surrounding when things are likely to return to normal, it means loss of income in hundreds millions of shillings.

It had budgeted to raise more than Sh1.3 billion by the end of last year but fell dismally short, raising only slightly more than Sh650 million.

“It is true this thing is coming at a very bad time for us when we had fought so hard to get more organisations to use our facilities both local and international,” said a senior manager who requested to remain anonymous.

“Indeed our core business is in MICE and this is where we generate our core revenue leave alone rentals that are very problematic”.

Invisible smoke

He said KICC management had this year projected to attract more than 100 events at the centre, but all these seems to have gone up in the invisible smoke of Covid-19 terrorising the entire world.

He said it is the national, international, continental, regional conventions, conferences, exhibitions, AGMs, workshops and many other scheduled events that generate the centre’s core income.

One of the very first major international event; Human Heredity and Health in Africa Organisation was cancelled thanks to Covid-19.

Also cancelled was the 15th H3Africa Consortium Meeting Nairobi, which was to take place between March 8 and 16.

The cancellation letter to the delegates reads in part: “We regret to announce that in light of the uncertain nature of the Covid-19 outbreak and security risks, the 15th H3Africa Consortium Meeting has been cancelled.” 

It added: “Our leadership has made this difficult decision based on reports shared by Consortium experts, Principal Investigators and meeting participants as well as various Government Agencies”.

Other meetings cancelled at the end of last month included Afya Co-operative Savings and Credit Co-operative Annual Delegates Conference (ADC), an annual fixture at KICC with delegates drawn from all over the country’s 47 counties.

Auditor report tabled before Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) late last year showed that the country’s iconic edifice revenue fell by  Sh713.7 million in the financial year 2017/2018.

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