The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says the forthcoming 2019 Abuja International Trade Fair will feature 45 foreign companies to strengthen businesses, trade and investment opportunities in the country.
The ACCI Director General, Chief Tonia Shoyele, while briefing newsmen on Monday in Abuja said that the foreign companies were expected from India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mali, Cote d’Voire and Cameroon, among others.
Shoyele said that over the years, the chamber had a minimum of 30 foreign countries participating but the number had increased in this 13th edition because many embassies had declared interest to participate.
She said that the multi-sectoral trade event had grown exceedingly in scope and strength as one of the biggest trade platforms for international and domestic exhibitors to promote new product lines, access new markets, build business relationships and grasp developing trend.
Newsmen report that the 13th trade fair, scheduled to hold from Sept. 21 to Sept. 29, would also feature a roundtable focused on the theme: “Remodelling SMEs Financing: Options and Solutions’’.
Describing Nigeria as an 80 per cent Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based country; she said it was on this background that the chamber decided to have a 100 per cent focus on SMEs.
“Basically our mandate is to promote their businesses and handhold them till they get to the upper level. There will be a roundtable which CBN, Bank of Industry and others that are SMEs based participate to form policies and strategies to promote the SMEs,’’ she said.
She said that the chamber had also put in place measures to provide adequate security personnel which include the Nigerian Police, Army, Anti-Bomb Squad, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), among others.
Dr Johnson Anele, the ACCI Vice president in charge of Commerce and Chairman, Abuja Trade Centre said that it would equally feature trade and investment profile presentations, exhibitions business matchmaking sessions and products/services presentation.
Anele, who is also the Chairman, Organising Committee of the event, said that the trade fair would boost local content by encouraging the growth of indigenous companies and patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods.
“We want to encourage local exhibitors. We cannot be talking about local content when we have an appetite for foreign-made goods.
“We will use the platform to canvass and encourage people to patronise and consume Nigerian products.
“We are also encouraging many foreign exhibitors, we organise on regular basis trade missions for the international companies to establish good economic ties with them to enable them to invest in Nigeria,” he said.
Anele urged the stakeholders and related government agencies and parastatals to seize the opportunity to enlighten people on their activities for partnership and immense benefit.
According to him, the trade fair will explore options and proffer solutions on how better the SMEs could be managed and upgraded to be able to contribute meaningfully to economic development.
“Our focus is mainly on the SMEs, which is the engine room for the economic growth and provides the bulk of employment in the country and quite a number of them constitutes the bulk of our membership.
“We are also not neglecting other big conglomerates but we will focus on SMEs because of their importance and the role they play in national economic growth.
“The Federal Government has a lot of programmes to support the SMEs but the unfortunate thing is that some of the programmes are not well known to the supposed beneficiaries,’’ he said.
Anele added that the chamber also made provision of adequate infrastructure and facilities including construction of an ultra model convention centre with 7,000 capacity and conducive business atmosphere to host the world-class international trade fair.
The trade fair is designed to provide a neutral and open atmosphere for blue-chip companies, trade groups association, government related agencies and private sector organisations to engage new business partners for investment and trade relations.