As the 2020 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair opened on Friday, the number of international participants was observed to be at low.
Gabriel Idahosa, Chairman, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Trade Promotion Board, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria attributed the development to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s ongoing border closure.
Idahosa told NAN that though the restrictions had been lifted in Nigeria, the same could not be said for some other countries, a development, he explained, affected their shipping processes.
He, however, expressed optimism that by Monday, neighbouring countries, some of whom were on ground, would have fully received necessary clearance of their goods to allow exhibition.
He said: “After the restrictions were lifted here in Nigeria, some countries such as China and Japan, still had restrictions and they were unable to ship their goods.
“Normally, they ship their goods two to three months before the trade fair.
“We have Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo on ground, but their goods have not been able to come because they are awaiting clearance by the security agencies due to the border closure.
“But by Monday, we expect that many of them would have been sorted and things can go on as planned.”
Meanwhile, some exhibitors at the LITF, in separate interviews with NAN, expressed optimism over the expected volume of sales of good and services in spite of the economic disruptions of COVID-19 pandemic.
Rasheed Jaiyeola, Managing Director, Bukka Hut, a food vendor, said he was optimistic due to the nature of his business.
Jaiyeola said the fair provided an opportunity for his company, as a first time exhibitor, to showcase itself and reach a wider target audience due to the number of visitors that would be at the venue.
He said: “We understand that COVID-19 has affected the disposable income of citizens, with the inflation on almost all items, but the reality is that people must eat.
“With that, we have hope of good sales and would also take advantage of the opportunity to showcase our brand.”
Abimbola Omidiran, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Art Gallery, said the outlook of this year’s trade fair was scary.
Omidiran told NAN that her opinion was based on the current reality with regards to the turn out of both exhibitors and visitors at the fair.
She, however, said she was hopeful and looked forward to making contacts that would give her business the required boost.
She said: “With COVID-19, I can tell you that we all took risks to come here and people are afraid as to whether they would get return on investment following the purchase of space to exhibit their products and services.
“This is my 18th year of coming here and I normally would take more space, but I am just taking one that would accommodate losses if that ends up being the case.”
Waheed Ismail, Showroom Manager, Thermocool, said the ambience of the fair had not met his expectations when compared to other years.
According to him, the previous years had many more local and foreign exhibitors and visitors.
Ismail, however, expressed hope over his targeted volume of sales in spite of the seeming low turnout.
He said: “This year is not as we are expecting it.
“By this time last year, everywhere was full and we were in high spirits.
“But we are still hopeful and pray that things turn out good in spite of everything COVID-19 has done to the Nigerian economy.”