Byo firms spurn ZITF as recession bites

Byo firms spurn ZITF as recession bites

BULAWAYO, April 6 (The Source)—The number of Bulawayo companies exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) remains low, comprising just 28 percent of Zimbabwean participants as the local economy continues to struggle, an official said on Wednesday.

Addressing journalists in Bulawayo on Wednesday, ZITF board chairman Bekithemba Nkomo said 63 percent of confirmed local exhibitors were from Harare, while 28 percent are from Bulawayo and the rest from other cities around the country.

The 57th edition of the annual showpiece will be held from April 26 to 30 under the theme: “Innovate, Integrate and Industrialise”.

Three weeks ahead of the country’s premier trade fair, Nkomo said exhibitors were now finalising their exhibitions.

“To date, close to 43, 000 square metres (which converts to 90 percent of available exhibition space) has been sold,” Nkomo said.

He said 361 exhibitors, from 20 countries, have confirmed participation.

“Foreign participation is encouraging with 28 direct foreign exhibitors having booked, which is 27 percent higher than the booking statistics at this time last year,” he said.

Many large companies that formed the backbone of Bulawayo’s industry have either closed shop, liquidated or been placed under judiciary management.

These include Merlin, David Whitehead Limited, Textile Mills, Belmore Manufacturers and Ascot Clothing. National Blankets and Security Mills are under judicial management while Cold Storage Company, National Railways of Zimbabwe, United Refineries, Dunlop Zimbabwe and Archer Clothing have down-sized, leaving thousands jobless.

Countries that have national stands include Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, while Canada, China, Cyprus, India and Germany will be represented by individual companies.

Ghana and Russia are among countries exhibiting at ZITF after a lengthy absence, Nkomo said.Business delegations from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Tatarstan Export Corporation of Russia are expected at the fair, he added.

South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry will this year bring in 35 companies, an increase from the 24 that participated in 2015.

“This is because of the value that they see in the show and the meaningful business connections that South Africa companies are making with their local counterparts during ZITF,” he said.