BULAWAYO will be the centre of attraction this week as it hosts this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
At least 396 exhibitors are attending the four-day exposition that begins today, ending Friday. Eleven countries — Botswana, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Belarus, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania — are represented.
President Mnangagwa is the guest of honour at this year’s edition which is unique in a number of ways.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government and organisers of the ZITF made a decision to cancel it last year after a few deferments. Traditionally, the ZITF is hosted in the first-half of every year but because of the highly contagious infection, organisers considered it too risky to run it in that period and the rest of that year. This year’s is, thus, unique in that it is probably the first one to be staged in the second-half of the year.
ZITF 2021 stands out too in terms of the way it is being run. We are used to a show in the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre — its huge brick and mortar halls and open air grounds teeming with hundreds of exhibitors and business participants on the first days before they are joined by tens of thousands of members of the public on the last few days.
However, because of the pandemic and the threat it poses on crowds, the ZITF Company will deliver a hybrid event.
There would be the physical presence as usual, but the show would have an online segment as well.
Apart from that, and as a result of Covid-19 prevention and control imperatives being implemented, we will naturally have a substantially muted show with ordinary visitors only allowed in on one day. Most unfortunately for the kids, they are not allowed this time, only visitors aged 18 and above. This means no face-painting for them, no jumping castles, no horse rides, no photographs on police bikes and no military displays.
Yes, the show should have fewer people attending, but we have hope that its content would be as usual, if not better than previous editions.
New initiatives at the show include the Diplomats Forum, a platform for diplomats accredited to the country to interface with Government and private sector representatives. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is putting together this very important forum that advances its mandate of promoting economic diplomacy.
There obviously will be the traditional events that we have always known to run concurrently with the main show. The Bulawayo Agricultural Show is back again, the Zimbabwe International Business Conference and so on.
ZITF Company deputy chief executive officer, Ms Stella Nkomo, expects a successful exposition.
“All is now set for ZITF 2021, which kicks off tomorrow,” she said yesterday.
“Exhibitors are now putting final touches to their stands as they seek to creatively showcase their products and services. There is an aura of excitement after the cancellation of the show last year. This is because exhibitions such as ZITF are both a communication and promotion tool that is used to market products, services and brands. Many companies are looking forward to generating sales leads as well as building and promoting their brands as part of assuring customers that they are still standing.”
We, as Ms Nkomo does, look forward to a successful event that brings businesses together to make contact and clinch deals.
The country’s economy is recovering and investment is flowing. We are witnessing interesting investments in the mining, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, public infrastructure and other fields. We call on business participants to ZITF 2021 to seriously consider investing in the local market, picking the foregoing sectors as well as many more that abound in the country.
As exhibitors, business visitors and the general public transact or have fun, they must not forget that the coronavirus is lurking somewhere. Therefore, the prevention and control measures adopted by the Government and ZITF Company must be upheld. Social distancing is a must, so are regular body temperature checks, hand washing and sanitisation as well as correct and mandatory wearing of face masks.