Oversubscribed ZITF roars into life tomorrow Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu

Mashudu Netsianda

Bulawayo Bureau

ALL is set for the 64th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), with Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu yesterday expressing optimism that the event will be a success. 

The annual trade showcase roars into life tomorrow until Saturday. The first three days (April 23 to 25) are business days while April 26 and 27 are public days. 

ZITF serves as a platform for showcasing technological innovations that can drive industrial growth and it encourages entrepreneurship by providing a platform for new businesses to connect with potential customers and investors.

Expectations are high that this year’s showcase, riding on the theme: “Innovation: The Catalyst to Industrialisation and Trade”, will position local industry players to clinch major deals and expand their markets. 

Kenyan President, Dr William Ruto will officially open the country’s biggest annual trade expo on Friday.

In a press briefing yesterday after touring some of the stands at the Zimbabwe Exhibition Centre to assess progress, Minister Ndlovu said they were geared to host the country’s premier trade showcase with some exhibitors putting final touches to their stands.

“All is set for our 64th edition of the ZITF, starting on the 23 April and running to the 27th of April. It is business unusual out there as people are doing their final touches and preparing their exhibitions,” he said.

“We are quite excited again because this year we have recorded yet another increase in terms of the number of exhibitions. We are talking about 100 percent occupation space and we had to put a tent outside to accommodate those who couldn’t get space indoors.” 

Minister Ndlovu said the country’s flagship trade showcase also serves as a strategic avenue for positioning the country as a dynamic player in the global marketplace.

“In terms of the direct number of exhibitors, this year we have 624, an increase from last year’s 565. Again, when we look at the number of foreign countries exhibiting, we have 26 from 21 last year, and one country may have well over five exhibiting companies,” he said.

“We are quite optimistic that the figures will continue to increase. This year, we have 136 first-time exhibitors compared to 103 last year. We are excited about the upward trend in most of the areas that we are assessing.”

Minister Ndlovu said the foreign countries are bringing 123 exhibitors, an increase from last year when there were 70 exhibitors. “Countries which were not here last year include Brazil, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Indonesia, North Korea, Namibia and Romania. Following His Majesty King Mswati’s visit last year, we are seeing exhibitors from his country participating at the ZITF,” he said. 

Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga will host the opening of the ZITF Welcome Cocktail and the ZITF International Business Conference on Wednesday.

The event series will also include the ZITF Charity Golf Challenge, the ZITF Diplomats Forum, and the Connect Africa Symposium.

The Diplomats Forum will explore economic partnerships through entrepreneurship and the Connect Africa Symposium, which will be officially opened by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, will focus on sustainable entrepreneurial strategies across Africa.

The ZITF schedule concludes with the ZNCC Business Lunch on Friday, followed by public exhibition days.

“The International Business Conference whose guest of honour will be Vice President Chiwenga is a very important platform where we delve deeply into issues of both domestic and international economies. It will be an interesting one following the introduction of the new currency and it is already oversubscribed,” said Minister Ndlovu.

“We also have the ZITF Innovators Forum which will be running for two days and this is the space for young people who will be taking centre stage. There will be the Connect Africa Symposium which will be opened by Vice President Mohadi and we will have officials from my Ministry, ZimTrade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade other players within the international trade space.”

Minister Ndlovu said the main event on Friday will see President Mnangagwa hosting his Kenyan counterpart.

“We are ready and geared up to host the ZITF which will be a success. It is interesting to interact with exhibitors and open opportunities for trade and investment. As more countries come, they also create an opportunity to open new lines of trade and business,” he said.

 “We want to pitch our messaging around ZITF 2024 mainly on the issue of leverage on innovation to promote trade and investment in the country. It is also a tribute to the President for opening Zimbabwe for business and for his charm offensive in being a friend to all and an enemy to none.”

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