New Era (Windhoek)

29 August 2012

Namibia: Visitors Flock to Ongwediva Trade Fair

More than 16 000 visitors have gone through the gates of the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair in the first three days since the opening of the fair on August 24.

This year's trade fair attracted 45 international exhibitors from South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia and Japan. The total number of exhibitors at the fair is 450.

"I am happy to see such big representation of exhibitors, a sign that our business community, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are taking advantage of this platform to market and sell their products and services," said President Hifikepunye Pohamba when he officiated at the opening of this year's trade fair on August 27.

The Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair has become the premiere trade and investment showcase in the north, allowing for exhibitors to showcase their talent, entrepreneurship and industry. The trade fair runs until September 01 under the theme 'Creating a Value Chain for the Local Market.'

Pohamba attributed the success of the business sector in the country to government's significant investments in establishing an environment that is conducive for businesses to operate in and create wealth.

"The aim is to promote entrepreneurship and boost trade and commercial activities in the country," said Pohamba on the many initiatives that government has introduced.

Government investments include the Ministry of Trade and Industry's industrial parks and SME modules around the country.

The country has 42 operational industrial parks and more are under construction at Ongenga, Eenhana, Omuthiya, Karasburg, Kalkfeld, Oshakati and Okahandja.

Other government investments are the construction of the automotive and logistics hub at Walvis Bay and the construction of a trade and an industrial multi-purpose centre at Rundu. The government's equipment aid scheme has so far assisted 580 beneficiaries, most of them SMEs.

The SME Bank is expected to remove the problems of access to financing for SMEs, while amendments to the Tender Board Regulations would ensure that SMEs have more participation in the public procurement system.

"I call on our business community, especially the SMEs to be more pro-active and to take full advantage of the conducive business climate created by government," Pohamba said.

Describing the SME sector as the "informal sector shadow economy" the First National Bank of Namibia (FNB) Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Advocate Vekui Rukorosaid SME's' collective contribution towards the country's GDP could exceed 26 percent.

"This demonstrates the importance of the sector. However, as our country is plagued by low economic growth and unacceptably high unemployment figures, the real challenge is to find ways to help SMEs grow their business to become part of the mainstream economy and create new jobs. Simply put, we need to find innovative ways to help the SME sector grow. One such way is events such as the Ongwediva Trade Fair," said Rukoro.

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