…Said positive about economy as fulcrum of survival, despite Covid-19
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Enugu, the Nigerian south-eastern coal city, is kicking off with its 32nd edition of the Enugu international trade fair, an annual trade exhibition which first began in in the city in 1979. Apart from some international exhibitors, the fair usually covers the businesses of the South-East region.
Organised yearly by the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), leading the organised private sector, the 2021 fair would run from Friday, March 19 to Monday, March 29, 2021 at the fair’s permanent site located beside Golf Estate, Enugu.
Emeka Nwandu president of ECCIMA, briefing journalists on the fair said, the theme is: “Promoting New Technologies, Business Ideas and Strategies for Rapid Economic Growth and Development in Nigeria.”
It is the first trade exhibition holding in anywhere in Nigeria a year after the Covid-19 lockdown in the country.
This month a year earlier, the country, with a bulging population now estimated at more than 206 million, was preparing to go into a lockdown, which has had drastic consequences on the economy – a second recession in five years. Though the nation’s statistics.
The fair though has been holding in an area allocated as the fair ground along Enugu-Abakaliki highway, but only temporary structures dot the venue for more than 36 years now. Year-over-year, ECCIMA, the organising chamber had cried to the federal government to build a permanent trade fair site for Enugu as it did with its counterpart regional fair cities – Lagos and Kaduna.
In October last year, the permanent secretary at the federal ministry of industry, trade and investment (FMITI) undertook a tour of the vast trade fair complex, which hosted the 31st edition (earlier scheduled in March 2020 but was shifted to October same year, due lockdown imposed by the federal government due to Covid-19 pandemic.
During the 2019 fair, the minister of state for industry, trade and investment, Mariam Katagum had said the central government planned to build the Enugu fair site through a public-private participation (PPP). According to Katagum, only a PPP model could assure the facilitation, future development and maintenance of the fair complex.
Her promise is the umpteenth by several past federal officials which only ended as fleeting promises.
Nwandu, ECCIMA president said, the chamber had put in place all arrangements to make this year’s fair successful. He also said the chamber would strictly keep with all COVID-19 protocols amongst fair participants.
He said planning for a successful 32nd fair began in the third quarter of 2020 amid the unfortunate economic challenges occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic and EndSARS nationwide protests.
“Notwithstanding, the Chamber,” he said, “was making appreciable progress to ensure that the fair came out very successfully.”
“Although we are still battling with some of the aforementioned ugly situations such as: the second wave of the COVID-19, we still need to be positive about our economic affairs, because the economy remains the fulcrum of our survival, growth and development,” he said.
He informed that more than 100 corporate organizations within Nigeria and outside the country have indicated interest to participate at the fair. He said the minister of industry, trade and investment is expected to declare the trade fair open.