Rwanda International Trade Fair
Every year, PSF, the official organizer of the famous Rwanda International Trade Fair (RITF) comes up with something new, something innovative, something exciting—to give the exhibitors; both local and international the best moment in showcasing their products and services and show-goers a moment to remember in their lifetime. Last year, it was the giant tents with aluminum partitioning that were well labeled with exhibitors' company names that excited exhibitors most. In an exclusive interview with Mr. Ephrem Karangwa, the Trade Fairs and Promotion Manager at PSF on Thursday he said preparations this time round had to start earlier than the previous years to take care of the innovations that are going to be vested in the architectural design of the expo ground.
The 12-days long expo will officially open on Thursday August 28, 2008. During last year's expo, much as show-goers were thrilled by Akagera Helicopters' displays, clouds of dust by helicopters was disgusting to some people. PSF has this time hired a professional gardening company called Plantor sarl to cover the entire ground with grass (pasparum) and fast-growing trees species to get rid of dust once and for all. A visit to the ground on Thursday, scores of women and men were busy clearing the bushy ground, and trucks were ferrying top soil and manure covering the ground. Mr. Karangwa said planting grass would start soon after leveling the entire ground with top soil and manure. Adding: "the ground will be well designed with paved walkways and the grass will be watered until the ground is neat in about five (5) weeks".
Ephrem said all exhibitors will be accommodated in two giant tents, and there will be 138 standard stands in each—a standard stand is 9 nine (9) square meters. "If the number exceeds space in the two giant tents, we have made provision of two more giant tents. This time there'll be no more open or isolated stands. All exhibitors will be in tents, " he announced. However, space will be reserved outside the tent for major sponsors of the trade fair and those exhibitors that will be ready to cough higher pay for stands outside the two big tents. He said of the two giant tents that they're modern; of international standards—with good lights and ventilation.
This year, PSF expects higher number of both local and international exhibitors. Before an aggressive awareness campaign starts next week, Ephrem says, "We already have confirmations from new international exhibitors from German, France, China, Dubai (UAE) and Iran. And, for the first ever the American Embassy in Rwanda and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will also be exhibiting".
Further, PSF has hired Exhibitions and Events Organizers Ltd, a Kenyan based events management company with rich experience in organizing similar exhibitions in other countries in the region. "They bring in a lot of experience in planning, scheduling and monitoring of the trade fair. We have come up with an Expo 2008 implementation schedule that indicates the roadmap to August 28th and checklist of main activities to execute". Effective next week, Ephrem said his office will start sending what he called "expo pack", containing all information an exhibitor may require. " We' are set to start sending the expo pack next week to all Rwandan embassies abroad, sister organizations in other countries, and foreign embassies and organizations with offices in Rwanda. The same expo pack has been uploaded on our (PSF) website for easy registration by especially foreign exhibitors, " he explained.
Exhibitors are normally very concerned about the cost of stands. Ephrem says the rates are very affordable by all standards. For a local exhibitor, a square meter, he says, will go for RwF50,000…meaning it will cost him/her RwF450, 000 to rent a standard 9-square-meter stand for 12days. According to the manager, a company that will require bigger space will have to rent multiple of other 9-square stands. For foreign exhibitors, a square meter will go for US$150 (about RwF82, 000); meaning a standard stand will go for US$1350 (about RwF742,000). Ephrem is convinced this is a fairer price compared to what is charged at similar exhibitions in the region. "In Kenya, for example, a square meter goes for over $200, " he cited. Also, both exhibitors and show-goers expect maximum sanitation at such a long event, with high number of visitors everyday. Ephrem said: "two permanent flash toilets will be constructed with 24/7 flowing water. There'll also be water taps at various points within the expo ground. We shall hire a professional cleaning company to take care of sanitation during the expo. And, the health ministry, which is a stakeholder, will assist in this". As regards security, and safety, the trade fairs and promotions manager said they will be working hand in hand with the national police to ensure peace and order during the expo, and the Red Cross for any emergency.
Last year's expo reportedly registered an average 30% growth in terms of, among other parameters; visitors, exhibitors (both local and international) and revenues. Ephrem is optimistic of higher performance considering the ongoing preparations standards, especially the awareness campaign that is kick-staring next week. Meanwhile, provincial mini expos will kick-off start next month with Western Province on 4th June 2008. All provinces will hold own expos until July. The Southern Province expo will come last; will be held between 9th and 13th July 2008. Ephrem said BDS centers in collaboration with the office of provincial governors and district mayors are mobilizing businesses to participate. "An aggressive media campaign would start soon to attract higher participation than last year, " he said. Unlike in previous years, this year's mini expos, according to Ephrem, will attract exhibitors from EAC member countries, especially those that normally exhibit in Jua Kali. Mini expos are an opportunity for SMEs, especially in the countryside to showcase their commodities and share business experiences.
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