By Ifidon Janet and Oshomagbe Jessica
The Lagos International Trade Fair 2018 came with a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly
For some of the exhibitors at the Lagos International Trade Fair 2018, business was good but for some others it was not so. Frank Shai, a Chinese exhibitor of Sinotruk Company declared that Nigeria is one of the very important countries in Africa; and that was his reason for seeking partnership with businessmen in the country. He said the recently concluded Lagos International Trade Fair 2018 has left an indelible mark on his business. “We have been participating in Trade Fairs for over ten years now. Nigeria is among the best country to partner with as this fair has widened our business horizon,” he said.
Another foreign exhibitor who applauded the organisers of the fair, Alex Tashii, a Japanese exhibitor, whose company deals in construction equipment expressed his country’s readiness to help Nigeria in overcoming its economic development challenges especially in the area of road constructions. “We offer different varieties of construction material which I think will help to enhance development in Nigeria,” He said.
The contribution of this year’s fair, which focuses on ‘Connecting Business and Creating Values’, is one that should be highly commended. The fair was also designed to create value for exhibitors and a platform for indigenous and international businesses to share innovations and knowledge.
Bello Shehu, Marketing Officer, Agriculture in Kano State, a company sponsored by Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje said their aim at the fair was mainly to showcase their product in order to encourage agriculture. “We are present at the fair every year. And our main focus is to promote agriculture. We only sell out our product on the last day of the fair.”
This year, the LCCI declared zero tolerance for loud music at the fair against the wish of some exhibitors who believe there is advantage in that. But Gabriel Idahosa, chairman of the Trade Promotion Board of LCCI said “It is true that some of our exhibitors believe that the music helps them attract potential buyers to their stands. It is indeed fast becoming a culture, to say the least. This year, we will not allow the use of music gadgets in exhibition stands. Our central public address system will be made available to disseminate information and light music to make the environment welcoming.” The organizers promised alternative publicity strategies that can attract quality patronage rather than making noise and becoming a threat to other stakeholders at the fair.
As a result of the zero tolerance to noise pollution declared by the LCCI in order to avoid unnecessary distractions to exhibitors and visitors, there are those who believe that the new regulation contributed negatively to their sales. Lawani Idris, a relationship officer, Lapo Micro Finance Bank told TELL that playing music would have enhanced the number of visitors to the stand of the bank. “It affected us and we were not able to meet our target,” he lamented. But the ban was lifted only two days to the end of the trade event just to satisfy some of the exhibitors who felt strongly about the use of loud music to attract visitors to their stands.
But the exhibitors that went home most disappointed are those whose goods meant for exhibition at the Trade Fair got stock at the Apapa ports. Chris Igbokwe, general manager, Grand Products Limited lamented that some power generating sets and water pumping machines manufactured by the company’s partners in China, Longen Power, could not be cleared at the port about ten days after their arrival. That resulted in the products not being showcased during the Business to Business, B2B, meeting with prospective distributors and other partners at the fair.
States and local governments in Nigeria that are eager to attract development were also represented at the fair. At least, three states made presentations following the tradition of having special days. These were Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Lagos.
Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Olayinka Oladunjoye, said that the annual participation of the state at the fair afforded it the opportunity to host hundreds of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs freely at its pavilion.
“The opportunity given the MSMEs would stimulate demand for their products, facilitate inflow of capital through exposures and networking; boost productivity, employment and profitability,” he said, adding that this will position the state to harness its strength and potential and to connect businesses by encourage investors to leverage and identify synergies that add value to them.
For Ebonyi State, Governor David Umahi, represented by the state Commissioner of Commerce and Industry, Ugo Nnachi said the state’s abundant mineral resources waiting to be tapped includes salt, lead, zinc, copper, kaolin, cement and coal.“It may interest you to know that crude oil was discovered in the state in 1928 and until now it is yet to be tapped and we are hoping that before long Ebonyi State will join the league of oil producing states. Ebonyi State also has a lot of tourism potentials such as beaches, parks, resorts centres and good hotels.”
Umahi disclosed that his government had, in the last three years, embarked on projects that would attract investors, eliminate unemployment, hunger, insecurity, diseases and illiteracy.
Other banks and insurance companies that participated at the fair include Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Leadway Assurance and Staco Insurance. MultiChoice Nigeria was also on ground to offer special offers to customers.