Recession Takes Toll On Abuja Int’l Trade Fair

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The Abuja International Trade Fair may be young when compared with trade fairs hosted by other cities in Nigeria, but many factors make it so unique and attractive. Its organisation by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry is said to be one of the best and most established shows of its kind. Abuja being the seat of power of Africa’s most populous nation has made its trade fair a destination to both local and foreign tourists.

The J. T Useni Trade Fair Complex, venue of the fair, is a vast expanse of land along the popular Musa Yar’Adua Expressway, leading to the Abuja International Airport. This strategic location is one factor that has always contributed to the massive attendance at the Abuja trade fairs.

The theme of this year’s fair which is “Make it in Nigeria” was said to have been coined to underscore the rich but latent human and natural endowments in Nigeria that could impact positively on the global economy if well harnessed. It was also said that the theme seeks to discourage the illegal migration of youths who are purportedly escaping from harsh economic condition and thereby moving in droves to other countries in search of greener pastures.

This is the 11th edition and it appears to have a strong message that will refocus both policy makers and other stakeholders to be more pragmatic in all their business endeavours. President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Mr. Tony Ejinkonye, said that the choice of the theme for this year’s fair was made in response to the current realities of the Nigerian economy.

“We believe that we must make it in Nigeria if we must exit the current economic challenges. Thus, “Make it in Nigeria” is a clarion call to government’s at all levels to do the needful to improve the business environment and encourage the operations of the private sector, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” Ejinkonye said.

The ACCI boss said that Nigeria and Nigerians need to look inward in facing the challenges arising from the economic recession, adding that the fair was intended to promote accelerated development of commerce and industry. According to Ejinkonye, the ACCI is also passionate about promoting the revitalisation and diversification of the Nigerian economy by promoting the nation’s non-oil exports. Other objectives include to direct attention to the role of the private sector by providing access to resources and technology findings, while attracting foreign investment into the economy.

Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, who delivered a keynote address to open the trade fair, said that shows of this nature were needed in promoting the inflow of foreign capital, especially considering the present economic circumstances of the country. She noted that the event was relevant to Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan and the present move to diversify the economy.

Abubakar noted that the Abuja International Trade Fair is a good platform for showing the world Nigeria’s potential in producing reliable goods and services and expressed hope that the fair will continue to provide a platform for investors to network within the region. “We should undertake measures to mitigate the lingering negative image Nigeria has acquired abroad by using and promoting our own inputs to produce our goods” she said.

Corporate endorsement

The theme “Make it in Nigeria” seems to embody the recipe that corporate bodies in Nigeria had long wished to become an accentuated norm. This can be inferred from the number of corporate organisations that participated in the fair.

One of such organisations that were copiously on ground during the fair to showcase its services and also preach the gospel of economic revitalisation was the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

The organisation had its special day at the trade fair on October 6. It was both an opportunity to educate the public about their services as well as canvass for more positive actions towards economic recovery. Managing Director of NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, described the Abuja International Trade Fair as “fast becoming a flagship event for promotion of trade, commerce and investment in the country.”

Ibrahim, represented by one of the directors of the agency, Mrs. Christiana Afabo, said that the theme of this year’s fair was a further demonstration of the Chamber’s commitment to tapping into the hidden economic potential of Nigeria. He said that new economic frontiers and opportunities were required to revitalise the nation’s economy in the face of current challenges.

Recession hits the fair

Undoubtedly, the effects of the current economic recession in Nigeria show on the trade fair. This year’s fair did not record the mammoth crowd associated with the event. Inside Abuja went round to sample opinion of some of the exhibitors to get their impulse on the fair and many of them were full of lamentations.

A foreign exhibitor from Ghana, who simply identified herself as Madam Glory, said her reminiscence of the previous editions of the fairs, shows that the recession in the country has gone deeper that many thought.

The exhibitor told Inside Abuja that she has been participating in the Abuja fair for the past five years, but confessed that only four Ghanaian exhibitors made it to this year’s fair because of the high foreign exchange rate. She expressed doubts if she could recoup the N160,000 she spent to secure a stand at the trade fair.

According to her, every year she comes with some locally produced Ghanaian clothes and other fashion materials which normally puts good foreign exchange in her purse. She, however, bemoaned the scanty attendance that characterised this year’s fair, which she said reduced their chances of making brisk business. Another exhibitor, a Cameroonian who deals on traditional herbs was more blunt in talking about the trade fair.

The exhibitor, who did not disclose his names, regretted coming to the Fair all the way from Cameroon, adding that he has not enjoyed enough patronage since the fair started. A local exhibitor from Lagos, Mr. Azubuike, also decried the high foreign exchange rate which, he said, has not just affected the trade fair but trade and commerce in Nigeria.

He said that some of his colleagues who paid for exhibition stands at the Abuja trade fair could not come because the goods they had expected to exhibit did not come as at when due.

Lizzy, a lady in her late 20s, said she always comes to the trade fair to buy materials she use in her hair dressing saloon because she gets them cheaper during the fairs than in conventional market. However, she observed that the difference in prices of goods this year was not much, even in the face of rising foreign exchange rate.

Source: New Telegraph

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