THE 2019 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) has come and gone with its 60th anniversary celebratory mood. It attracted over 500 direct local exhibitors and 14 countries. It was a sold out event.
Based on the theme: “Propagating Industrial Growth Through Trade and Investment”, which is private practice development, its major drive was to attract fresh investments in the economy and assist Zimbabwe’s transformation to a middle income state by 2030.
There were robust, candid conversations there and what is left now is for all stockholders to walk the talk and do what has to be done to achieve the intended objectives, that is, to be attractive to woo investments and grow brands and not just talk shows.
It came in its mightiness, in numbers and offered support. My hope is that they listened to the murmurs by all economical actors and will move with lightning speed to address the shortcomings raised therefore such as policy challenges. The need to sell Zimbabwe to the Ugandan market goes without saying.
Bulawayo got blessed with brisk business from hotel bookings, food outlets, transport et al, which was great for the city of Bulawayo and availability of fuel didn’t dampen the spirits either. Money spent wasn’t that bad. There is now need to measure our hospitality index to visiting delegates both within and without the country.
Social cultural capital
The young at heart have something to talk about and delight their senses. The future lies with them, thus, catch them young for a bright future. Cultural exchange was achieved. It was also great exposure for Bulawayo to showcase its cultural heritage to the whole world.
Zimbabwe-Belarus business network
Opportunities in mining and agriculture are up for grabs. This has to be done with strategic integrity for mutual benefit. The presence of the United States of America also added political and emotional flavour to international relations building.
South Africa-Zimbabwe business
Given that the trade between these two is seen as the biggest, I would have expected an unprecedented presence, dialogue and network sessions as the calls for the use of Rand get louder though not really justified adequately. It is my wish as well that the Malaysia-Zimbabwe network be strengthened. These offer mutual, two-way trade and investment opportunities. It also offers a learning experience for the failures and successes from either party as they seek an optimal engagement platform for tangible business deals to ensue.
The need to measure brand awareness and brand visibility is critical for individual economic actors. Chief among this is brand Zimbabwe as to get indicators of the impact of this exercise and map new strategies to harness the two mentioned indicators. We need tangible deals.
The number of deals clinched/pledged should be recorded and quantified, verified and a follow up made as to gauge sustainability of these deals. This is the measure of how successful the trade show would be.
It’s all about remedial action on any data that doesn’t champion the cause of private business development. Was fun had? Of course for those young at heart we expect that to be measured, as well as these are future consumers of business products to bring loyalty and sustain business.
It is my hope that investigative reporting has to be employed to bring figures to fore and advance the business cause to the fair. There is a lot of information, data, statistics and analysis of figures on business deals to separate from the noise. The buzz wasn’t what I would expect for a trade fair of this magnitude.
Things to change in 2020
Preparedness should be seven days, should be extended to exhibitors, everything should be in place from roads and cleanliness etc. Stalls should be manned by senior brand personnel and put the best foot forward.
On the conferences there is need to bring freshness, different views and new faces to tell a different story as opposed to the same speakers for the past 10 years. It gets tiring and boring if the truth be told.
All corporate representatives should come together under a business banner and combine their efforts and have input into the successful hosting of ZITF because this fragmented approach is not helping anyone and we end up having counter conferences thus lack of depth.
I am happy international participation of ZITF is an ongoing exercise to sell brand Zimbabwe. The multi-faceted platform of Scholastica, A’sambeni, Mine Entra under the ZITF, are great winners.
The biggest challenge would to be to rethink, re-invent, rejuvenate, restructure, revitalise the model around ZITF construct to bring back that business vibe and generate economic benefits whether tangible or of intrinsic value.
This will do away with the naughty notion that this “is an annual gathering where Harare people travel to Bulawayo to meet other Harare people and discuss Harare business.”
21 gun salute for business
Let’s celebrate our business brands and what they have endured during this difficult period and urge innovation to weather the economic storm especially pricing dysentery. A vibrant environment will surely bring about economic growth.
I did appreciate the aggressive marketing initiatives by the ladies who are the interface of ZITF to defy the odds and pull off an excellent platform for business to engage.
Till year 2020 please let’s not lose focus and stamina. God bless Zimbabwe.
-Mr Morris Mpala is an economic commentator based in Bulawayo. He is also managing director of MoB Capital, a local micro-financial institution.