A total of 19 countries are participating at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair which opened yesterday, with exhibitors optimistic of clinching lucrative deals from the enquiries received on the first day of the trade showcase.
The 2015 premier trade showcase kicked off in Bulawayo albeit on a low note with the cancellation of the Tourism and Travel Expo and low activity at the agricultural show.
Notable activity was observed in major sectors such as Scholastica, an educational and careers expo, parastatals, manufacturing and SMEs as exhibitors exchanged notes and made enquiries on business deals.
Foreign and local exhibitors said the enquiries they received yesterday gave them confidence of improved prospects.
“It’s not the first time for us to be participating at the ZITF,” Namibian Port Authority public relations assistant Cliff Shikuambi said. “We’ve been exhibiting here for more than three years. The trade fair has been a platform to strengthen relations between Zimbabwe and Namibia at government level and also an opportunity to showcase our products.
“As a port authority, we’ve since morning been receiving a lot of enquiries. Probably this is because Zimbabwe has become one of the biggest importers of second-hand vehicles from the United Kingdom and America, which come through Namibia.”
Christian Cecchi, a sales director with a South African firm, TruPVC Products, said: “Enquiries have come through, although quite slow since it’s the first day.
“Attendance is a little bit down probably this is because it’s the first day. We’re hopeful that from tomorrow going forward until the last day of the trade fair, enquiries will increase and probably when we go back, follow-ups.”
Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association marketing intelligence specialist Lesley Squires said by mid-morning yesterday they had received four enquiries from Zimbabwe.
“We’ve had four definite enquiries this morning and we’re optimistic that by the end of day today the number would increase and also going forward more people would visit our stand,” she said.
The association has more than 400 members most of which are located in South Africa and are involved in the manufacturing of a variety of stainless steel products and servicing.
Lupane Women Centre training coordinator Florence Ndebele said besides expecting a prize at the ZITF, she was also optimistic that sales would improve.
The project, which specialises in basketry, has more than 4 000 members from different parts of Matabeleland North.
“We’ve won prizes at the ZITF and I’m confident that we’ll win another one this year,” she said. “We produce first class products and the ZITF has always helped us improve sales through interaction with companies and individuals.” National University of Science and Technology (nust) communication and marketing director Mr Felix Moyo said the institution was hoping to attract partners who would convert their research projects into commercial undertakings.
“National development is driven by research at universities and we’re exhibiting that at a time when Zimbabwe is hosting a regional conference on industrialisation in Harare,” he said.
The programme coordinator for Turning Matabeleland Green Trust, an organisation that promotes farming, Mr George Mlilo said he was confident that more people would be interested in farming to improve the country’s economy.
ZITF Company board chairman Mr Bekithemba Nkomo said the showcase began on a satisfactory note and expressed hope for more momentum starting today.
This year’s trade fair runs under the theme, “Stimulating Trade, Seizing Opportunities to Accelerate Growth”, which dovetails the country’s economic blueprint-the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
Zambian President Edgar Lungu will officially open the fair tomorrow at an event that would be attended by President Mugabe, ministers, government officials, diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and exhibitors.
The two Presidents are expected to tour the stands.