SA is setting its sights on growth opportunities at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020’s opening ceremony took place on September 30 2021

13 October 2021 - 09:00
Flags of the world's nations fly at the entrance to the Expo 2020 exhibition site in Dubai, UAE, on September 28 2021. The city is opening up to visitors for the World Expo from October 1 to March 31 and expects the event to attract 25-million visits – both virtually and in person.
Flags of the world's nations fly at the entrance to the Expo 2020 exhibition site in Dubai, UAE, on September 28 2021. The city is opening up to visitors for the World Expo from October 1 to March 31 and expects the event to attract 25-million visits – both virtually and in person.
Image: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

For six months from October 1 2021 to March 31 2022, Africa will have a global stage to showcase its potential to change the future, not just of Africa, but of the world. 

Expo 2020 Dubai is an unmissable opportunity to respond to how our world has altered — a launch pad for 192 countries to share their desire for positive change, to broaden their horizons and exchange ideas that inspire action to tackle real-life challenges. And Africa must play a leading, active role.

For the first time in the 170-year history of World Expos, every African nation is participating, each with its own pavilion, while the AU hosts its own pavilion at Expo 2020 — a colourful arena devoid of national borders that will showcase Africa’s vast potential and ambitions, reflected in its Agenda 2063 aspirations, which address agriculture, transport, science & technology, and health.

The Expo 2020 site is be alive with sights, sounds, rhythms and flavours from across the globe with a diverse events and entertainment programme that will keep visitors coming back for more. With up to 60 live events a day, for 182 consecutive days, no two days will be the same at Expo 2020 and one visit will not be enough.

From films and music, to cultural events, immersive experiences, art activations, sporting programmes, parades, puppets and poetry slams, Expo 2020 promises to entertain adults and children of all ages with activities and experiences that will leave an extraordinary mark on the lives of every person who walks through the door.

In keeping with its promise to be the most inclusive World Expo ever, Expo 2020 Dubai brings cuisines to suit every palate and budget, from old classics to new innovations, street bites and gourmet delights, presenting flavours and experiences from more than 200 food and beverage outlets.

Bespoke African dining hall Alkebulan celebrates vibrant cuisine and eclectic culture. Alkebulan (pronounced al-kee-boulan) — the oldest name for Africa and translating to “Mother of Mankind” or “Garden of Eden” — is a culinary concept curated by award-winning chef Alexander Smalls, a classically trained opera singer-turned-restaurateur. Offering a delicious odyssey of flavours and experiences, Alkebulan dining hall hosts 10 counters with traditional foods from different regions, ensuring that visitors from Africa feel at home, while the rest of the world is afforded the opportunity to enjoy a “Mother Continent” experience.

Located in the Opportunity District and with its theme, Think South Africa — Think Opportunity, the SA Pavilion proudly declares that excellence is in the country’s DNA. It’s excellence borne from the one-of-a-kind country’s rich heritage, incredible wonders, creativity and innovative thinking.

Not only does the pavilion celebrate SA’s multicultural diversity with its fascinating variety of people, landscapes, culinary experiences and languages, it will also explore the country’s investment opportunities through an interactive digital display. With SA ranked number one in Africa for strength of investor protection, the pavilion will highlight its diverse and advanced economy, its sophisticated and well-regulated banking sector, and how it has become the region’s principal manufacturing hub and a leading service destination.

As one of the world’s fastest-growing leisure and business destinations — backed by a rich sporting culture — visitors will also gain insights into the country’s wealth of tourism prospects.

Expo is committed to informing and inspiring a planet that deserves a brighter tomorrow, and will seek innovative ideas with tangible, real-life outcomes, from Africa and beyond, that enable future generations to flourish.

Expo 2020’s global innovation and partnership programme Expo Live has an allocated $100m to support projects with creative solutions to pressing challenges, helping to improve people’s lives or preserve the planet — or both.

Expo Live is already supporting 140 grantees from 76 countries, including 25 grantees from Africa, with one of these based in SA. Munch Bowls is a biodegradable, edible food container that can replace plastic ones. The bowls are completely biodegradable and nutritious. The Expo Live grant will help increase production as well as open a manufacturing facility in Dubai.

The pandemic has taught us that we are stronger when we are united. Our goals are shared, and by recognising our common humanity, we can realign our purpose and accelerate our shared progress. Through showcasing and celebrating our achievements, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Expo 2020’s opening ceremony on September 30 2021 heralded the start of this opportunity. From October 1 2021, the UAE looks forward to jointly lay the foundations for a cleaner, safer, healthier and more prosperous tomorrow. Africa’s participation at Expo 2020 can only help bring that exciting, optimistic new future a big step closer.

This article was paid for by Expo 2020 Dubai.