WATCH: International  spotlight on ZITF Foreign exhibitors put final touches to their stands yesterday. — Pictures by Eliah Saushoma

Chronicle Writers

The rise in foreign exhibitors at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) not only showcases the country’s commitment to fostering a conducive business environment but also highlights the international community’s renewed interest and confidence in engaging with Zimbabwe.

This year, the number of foreign exhibitors rose to 26, up from 21 the previous year, marking a 19 percent increase. The foreign countries are bringing 123 exhibitors, an increase from last year’s 70 exhibitors.

The increase in foreign exhibitors aligns with the Government’s “Open for Business” philosophy and reflects the growing confidence of the international community in Zimbabwe’s economic potential. It is a clear sign that the country is successfully re-integrating into the global economy, paving the way for increased trade, investment and economic development.

Zimbabwe’s re-engagement drive has been a cornerstone of President Mnangagwa’s foreign policy, aiming to rebuild relationships and open doors to international trade and co-operation. The recent surge in foreign exhibitors at the ZITF is a testament to the success of this initiative.

The annual trade showcase roars into life today and ends on Saturday. The first three days (April 23 to 25) are business days while April 26 and 27 are public days.

By around noon yesterday, the road leading to the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre was congested. The snaking mass of vehicles was headed for the ZITF 2024 and among those stuck in the snail-paced traffic were foreign exhibitors including representatives from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Belarus, Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi.

Such a medley of exhibitors was unheard of years ago, but things are different now and times have changed. Zimbabwe’s borders – always open for business – are now abuzz with activity. Everyone wants a piece of the Zimbabwean pie, especially foreign investors. 

In a sign of comradeship and growing business relations, Belarus, which has stood with Zimbabwe in its trying times, has set up one of the biggest exhibition stands at ZITF. 

“This year, the Republic of Belarus will present the biggest stand it has ever made, we will have 31 companies represented from Belarus from different sectors, which include the food industry and pharmaceuticals, amongst others,” said Belinterexpo management specialist Mr Sergei Gladyshev. 

Mr Lazarus Muganda, the Deputy Head of Mission for the Kenyan Embassy in Harare, couldn’t hide the excitement that comes with exhibiting at Zimbabwe’s premier trade fair, especially when your President is the guest of honour.  

President William Ruto will officially open the 64th ZITF running under the theme: “Innovation: The Catalyst to Industrialisation and Trade.”

“We are very honoured as Kenya to have our President, His Excellency Dr William Ruto as the guest of honour who will officially be opening the event. Kenya is prepared to showcase the products and services at this ZITF,” Mr Muganda said.

A glimpse at some of the stands that were still being set up by the time of going to Press, cements the conviction that Zimbabwe, like a phoenix, is on the rise again from the ashes of illegal sanctions. The exhibitors have spared no cent on their displays. Most of the stands are poetic, a work of art, a thing of beauty, and symbolic. The USA has even gone above and beyond with a metal and wire replica of the Statue of Liberty. 

Outside and inside the exhibition halls, ZITF personnel were hard at work, sweeping the streets and floors, weeding the flower and lawn beds, and sprucing up signage. There was no idle handle in sight. 

Foreign exhibitors put final touches to their stands yesterday. — Picture by Eliah Saushoma

Expectedly, most of the exhibitors are Zimbabwean – a testament to the Government’s policy of empowering individuals, businesses, and organisations. 

“We as the organisers of ZITF are happy to inform the nation that all is set for the 64th edition of the ZITF,” said Dr Nicholas Ndebele, the CEO of the ZITF Company.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mangaliso Ndlovu said the ZITF exhibitions serve as a catalyst for promoting trade, investment, and innovation, aligning with Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 goals.

Minister Ndlovu said one of ZITF’s success stories is the partnership between the exhibition company and international tech companies to showcase emerging technologies that support industrial growth.

This collaboration has not only attracted foreign investments in the technology sector but also positioned Zimbabwe as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, he noted.

By adopting economically sound approaches and highlighting success stories, Zimbabwe can further leverage its strengths and opportunities to achieve sustainable economic growth and development.

“The ZITF exhibitions serve as a catalyst for economic development by showcasing trade opportunities, attracting investments, and fostering innovation, all of which are instrumental in advancing Zimbabwe towards its Vision 2030 goals,” said Minister Ndlovu.

“Through these exhibitions, local businesses have the platform to network with international counterparts, explore new markets, and forge strategic partnerships that drive trade growth and economic diversification.

“Moreover, by highlighting investment opportunities in key sectors and encouraging partnerships, the ZITF events stimulate capital inflows, job creation, and industrial development essential for achieving sustainable economic progress.”

Among the local exhibitors is the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. They are leveraging the Trade Fair to educate Zimbabweans on accessing the Government’s recently launched drought relief programs.

“We are here at ZITF to provide material about the drought relief plan. As you know the country is facing a drought. People who need assistance need to be informed on how they can get help. We are here for that. We are also to talk about other issues, to tell our citizens about what decent work is, to educate them on labour issues and a whole of other issues that include child care protection,” said Ms Respect Chofamba, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare communications and advocacy officer.

ZITF showcases investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, attracting domestic and foreign investors.

The platform facilitates trade deals between Zimbabwean companies and international buyers, increasing exports which is key for the country’s economic growth.

Added to that, ZITF serves as a platform for showcasing technological innovations that can drive industrial growth and it encourages entrepreneurship by providing a platform for new businesses to connect with potential customers and investors.

In addition to the trade fair, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga will host the opening of the ZITF Welcome Cocktail and the ZITF International Business Conference tomorrow.

The event series will also include the ZITF Charity Golf Challenge, the ZITF Diplomats Forum, and the Connect Africa Symposium.

The Diplomats Forum will explore economic partnerships through entrepreneurship and the Connect Africa Symposium, to be opened by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, will focus on sustainable entrepreneurial strategies across Africa.

The ZITF schedule concludes with the ZNCC Business Lunch on April 26, followed by public exhibition days on April 26 and 27.



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