Bigger, better ZITF gets underway

ZTFProsper Ndlovu and Oliver Kazunga Business Reporters—
THE 57th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicks off in Bulawayo today with 401 direct exhibitors who include 34 foreign direct exhibitors participating. Expectations are high that this year’s showcase, riding on the theme: “Innovate, Integrate and Industrialise”, will position local industry players to clinch major deals and expand their market. President Robert Mugabe will be in the city on Friday with his Togolese counterpart, President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, who will officially open the event on the same day.

Event organisers, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company, said Zimbabwe’s flagship trade showcase was open for business, with a majority of exhibitors, visitors and dignitaries having arrived in the City of Kings.

“It’s now all systems go at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre,” ZITF Company general manager Nomathemba Ndlovu said. This year’s trade focus builds on the 2015 thrust that emphasised on seizing opportunities to accelerate growth.

Economists have stressed the need to innovate as the cornerstone of industrialisation in the context of regional and global integration, which is the new buzzword for transformation in a globalised economy. Regaining market footing is critical for Zimbabwean firms seeking to regain their lost lustre after more than a decade of industrial reversal.

Economic and trade expert, Gift Mugano, said the ZITF was a prime opportunity for Zimbabwe. “Given the number and geographical representation of exhibitors from all continents, this is quite an opportunity to do target marketing as a country. I believe this match-making approach is the best and that’s what advanced countries are doing,” he said.

“This is the opportunity for Zimbabwean companies to look for joint ventures and seek linkages. We hope our companies will exhibit in large numbers and match-make with their global counterparts.”

Mugano also believes the ZITF is critical in projecting a positive international image as it allows exhibitors to view the country from a different perspective based on the show that Zimbabwe puts up.

“This will assist in image building, which for a long time has been negative. Investors will experience Zimbabwe for themselves. The trade fair will also assist the Buy Zimbabwe thrust, we must apply brakes on cheap imports to spur our own industries,” he added.

Ndlovu said space uptake was fluid with exhibitors continuing to make bookings at the last minute while some were making adjustments to their requirements. As at end of business on Sunday, total bookings stood at 45,556 square metres reflecting 95,68 percent of space made available for sale.

“This space is occupied by 401 direct exhibitors compared with the closing total of 387 at ZITF 2015, including 34 direct foreign exhibitors, higher than in 2015. To date, 19 nations including Zimbabwe are participating,” said Ndlovu.

Among the countries represented are Botswana, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. Tuesday (today) up to Thursday have been designated as business days, while Friday and Saturday are public days.

Ndlovu said on Wednesday, April 27, there will be a ZITF International Business Conference, which will be officially opened by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. On Thursday April 28 there will be a joint ZITF/Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries manufacturing forum.

The inaugural breakfast meeting seeks to link domestic industries with foreign manufacturers of key industrial equipment. On the same day, there will be a ZITF Charity Golf Challenge to be officiated by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha. She said on all days Scholastica careers workshops and presentations will be taking place in Hall 2.

“In addition, April 27 will be a day dedicated to STEM initiatives and on April 28 there will be a High Schools debate on Climate Change. “ZITF 2016 participants are encouraged to download the ZITF 2016 mobile application so as to readily access information on event programmes and updates. This tool will help participants plan their days more efficiently,” said Ndlovu.

She added: “For anyone wishing to attend ZITF 2016 who has not yet secured accommodation, we would like to invite them to contact either the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) or our strategic partner, Eco Logical Safaris, who have been instrumental in assisting participants to secure accommodation.

“They’ve also set up an office within the exhibition centre to assist in this regard. The ZITF service providers’ association will be operating from within the grounds as well to cater for any exhibitors who need the services of contractors such as stand designers, decor, floral arrangements, and multi-media equipment providers among others.”

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