BULAWAYO, April 10 (The Source) – Only seven percent of exhibitors booked for this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) are foreign, organisers said, indicating continuing disregard of the country’s investment potential.
Zimbabwe’s poor business climate has seen it lag regional rivals in attracting foreign direct investment, while much of its manufacturing industry has gone under since the turn of the century.
“We are pleased that over 42,000 square metres (lower than last year) has been sold to date, occupied by 385 direct exhibitors, (compared to 361 last year, but only) 7 percent of whom are international companies. Similar to ZITF 2016, 25 percent of local participants are from Bulawayo. Harare companies make up 63 percent while the balance is coming from other cities around the country,” ZITF Company general manager, Nomathemba Ndlovu told The Source in an emailed response to questions.
Last year, former ZITF board chairman Bekithemba Nkomo said 63 percent of confirmed local exhibitors were from Harare, while 28 percent were from Bulawayo and the rest from other cities around the country.
Ndlovu said in spite of the economic situation, the support from local participants has been encouraging, making up 93 percent of direct exhibitors but noted that accommodation costs during the exhibition were prohibitive.
“We have overcome the cash challenges by providing electronic payment options for services and we will soon be announcing an online payment platform via our website,” she said.
“We are mindful of the rising participation costs versus shrinking marketing budgets. As such, we are actively engaging particularly the major players in the tourism sector, in order to bring accommodation costs down during the ZITF week.”
Many of Bulawayo’s largest companies are either closed, being liquidated or placed under judicial 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, Dunlop Zimbabwe and Archer Clothing have down-sized, leaving thousands jobless.
This year’s edition runs under the theme: Harnessing Linkages for Industrial Development and will be held from April 25 to 29.
The ZITF also hosts other exhibitions which include Mine-Entra and WASHen. Ncube said the company plans to expand regional participation in the exhibitions.