Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: War-Weary Syrians to Grace Rwanda Trade Show

Syrian companies are among the estimated 500 local and foreign exhibitors who will showcase their products during the Rwanda 2012 International Trade Fair organized by Private Sector Federation (PSF).

About 17 countries will participate in the two-week trade exhibition.

The Syrians are expected in the country a week before the show that starts on July 25, according to Hannington Namara, PSF chief executive officer.

"If we can attract traders in troubled countries such as Syria then that is a good sign to our efforts to turn a fresh page for the PSF with resolve to transform private sector and provide the vanguard the government needs to transform the economy into a middle income one by 2020," said Namara.

Syria has been under fire since March 2011 when protest against the government of President Bashar al-Assad broke out. Over 15,000 people have since been killed as what started as peaceful demonstrations turn into a full-scale civil war against Assad's government.

"The Rwanda International Trade Fair provides an opportunity for businesses to showcase their products, form networks, borrow new ideas for new ventures or form partnerships to strengthen their enterprises," Namara said.

Ephrem Karangwa, the head of Trade Fair at PSF said that all the stalls have been booked. Some 150 firms are on a pending list.

"We are expecting at least 500 exhibitors and all the stalls have been booked," he said. Foreign exhibitors pay $1,350 while local ones pay $450. Entry fee is Frw 500.

Namara attributes this success to good marketing and communication.

"That we have reenergized our network and relations with private sector authorities in other countries have ensured this success," he said. This is Rwanda's 15th exhibition.

"The trade fair will look at providing a perfect gateway towards achieving effective EAC integration," said Namara effectively stating this year's theme.

Over 300 local traders have booked to participate while the rest will come from out of the country.

Kenyan small and medium enterprises will dominate foreign stands. Outside Africa, Singapore, Taiwan and China have confirmed participation. On the African continent, Ghana, Botswana and Senegal will be represented.

PSF has injected about Frw 270 million into organizing the event.

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