The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THIS year’s 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) is the biggest showcase in over half a decade amid excitement brought about by a maiden exhibition by Middle East’s economic powerhouse, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Speaking at a Press conference on Thursday last week, ZITF Company chairperson Ms Ruth Ncube said the usual exhibition space, which is 48 400 square metres has been fully booked but after extending space, booking stands at 91 percent.
Ms Ncube said the company would further look for alternative space to accommodate more exhibitors especially foreign participants in the event the provision space was to be taken. This year’s exhibition will run from 24 to 28 April under the theme, “Sustainable Industrial Development-Inclusive. Competitive. Collaborative”.
“We last had an event of this magnitude about seven years ago. This year we have opened all the capacity at the Exhibition Centre, every little space is taken, including the halls that we had traditionally closed — they have been reopened. We are managing the risk of being oversubscribed, which we have never experienced for quite some time.
“As organisers of the trade showcase, our teams are working around the clock to ensure that we have the human and system capabilities to handle the expected higher volumes of local and international visitor traffic. These include refining and stress testing our crowd management systems to maintain the high levels of service delivery that we have come to be known for,” said Ms Ncube.
The number of direct exhibitors has surged by 27 percent to 454 compared to last year’s 356. Local exhibitors have also overwhelmingly secured their spot at the 59th edition of the showcase, with 25 percent of the direct exhibitors being first timers.
Eighteen foreign nations are expected to be represented at this year’s showcase and these include Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia while China, Cyprus, Germany, Ghana, India, Namibia, Malaysia and the UAE would be represented by individual companies from those countries.
Ms Ncube said the international exhibits would cut through a number of sectors including education, mining, aviation, transport, food, clothing and textiles, packaging materials, event management, and cultural exchange programmes.
“It is interesting to note that this is the first time we will be hosting exhibitors from the UAE as our agent in that country has mobilised exhibits by producers of energy products and consumer goods,” she said.
Ms Ncube said the participation of UAE was a big step towards ensuring that the country takes a leaf from the Middle East country on how it can improve its economy through use of various modern technologies.
“They (UAE) are here to bring first world innovative ideas in technologies . . . the concept of smart city originates from most of the UAE countries.
Their telecommunications and digital space technologies are advanced and when we look at ourselves and where they are, we are excited that those are the exact things that they are coming to show us and encouraging us that these are the areas developing countries should be moving towards . . . how technologies are helping efficiency and effectiveness and being competitive, because right now we can’t compete with our technology and be able to be as profitable as an organisation that is driving competitiveness through technology,” she said.
A smart city is a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of Government services and citizen welfare.
Ms Ncube praised ZITF Company’s marketing team for its concerted efforts in luring foreign countries to participate at the showcase, including highlighting the country as an investment destination of choice.
“We have seen eight or so additional nations that have come into (this year’s) ZITF. Others are new while others were no longer coming but are back.
So we are excited, but that again has been a combination of our own effort and that generally Zimbabwe is open for business, we are feeling it. We have felt it from local, we are feeling it from an international and even from the inquiries’ perspectives — not just representation, some will not make it in 2018 but definitely looking forward we are looking at a much bigger ZITF,” she said.
Ms Ncube said much has been done to ensure improved exhibition quality at this year’s showcase. We are really pushing quality more than quantity in terms of discouraging “flea market-ish” exhibition, though there is nothing wrong with such an exhibition but we are looking at value addition in terms of products that are being exhibited. We are screening and vetting, we are agreeing upfront through MoUs (Memorandum of Understandings) that spell out the trajectory that ZITF is carrying, so that we bring in quality exhibitors, that are able to drive the value that we want from them and our visitors too, because they (visitors) want value out of what they come here to spend time to do,” she said.
The three exclusive business days would see ZITF hosting the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe Conference (24 April), ZITF International Business Conference which would be hosted by the ZITF Company in conjuction with the National Economic Consultative Forum (25 April) with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries-ZITF Original Equipment Manufacturers Forum, Innovators’ Forum and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon all to be held on 26 April.