Kaduna — Unlike last year, Kaduna International Trade Fair experienced a boom this year, with participants trooping in from across Africa and some parts of the world.
Kaduna International Trade Fair, is no doubt, one of the most famous fairs in Africa. However, the fair last year was a mere shadow of itself due to the security challenges the hosting state and Nigeria at large faced. Unlike last year however, the crowd that usually grace the annual ritual doubled this year, with army of participants trooping in from across Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Tagged 34th Kaduna International Trade Fair, the road leading to the fairground had decorated stands, which excited passersby and gave impressions that something was happening there.
People going into the place (whether on foot or in cars) were properly screened. A glance at the large number of cars at the fair's parking lots showed an impressive turn out of well to do buyers.
Anybody entering the fair will first be welcomed by hawkers selling different items, such as drinks, children toys, noodles, belt, water, biscuit, hair ribbon and toothbrush, among others. Moving further into the venue, one hears different sounds of music from different stands and different strategies employed by sellers to attract willing buyers to their stand.
There were a lot of side attractions this year as entertainers stormed the trade fair displaying castle bouncers, TV games and roller skates for children, while pop corn and ice cream stands were erected to allow children catch fun. Dancers too as usual danced in different styles to entertain both buyers and sellers at the fair.
The fair is fuller this year with both Nigerian and foreign investors, who came from different countries including China, India, Egypt, Senegal, Mali and Niger, among others to display their wares. Students from various schools also visited the fair on excursion. The students moved from one stand to the other with excitements written all over their faces.
Sellers of food and drinks were the first to make sales. The hot weather boosted the sales of bottled water or soft. Our reporters observed that as at the time participants were still erecting their stands, sellers of food, water as well as juice were already making brisk business.
Paul Samuel of BAGCCO Company Kano said insecurity and spate of bombings scared people from the fair last year. He acknowledged the improvement this year.
According to him, sales were fantastic as he sold over 5,000 pieces of sacks. "We came with a lot of stocks and are left with few," he said. Samuel was however optimistic that before the end of the fair, they will sell everything brought to the place. He said his company also customizes bags and sacks for companies, adding that over 10 companies have approached them to customize their sacks. "We have taken their measurement, identified the quality of sack they want and have given them all the details they need to know. Last year, we were able to sell less than 1,500 sacks," he added.
According to him, they also brought a new image of a bag which looks like 'Ghana must go' into the fair. He said the bag which cost N1,500 can last for over six years and is very strong and can be used to carry more goods.
Zainab Shek from Senegal on her own part said business at this year's fair was good.
She said apart from coming to the trade fair, she visits Nigeria regularly to sell her Senegalese clothes. "Nigerians love my country's clothes," she stressed.
The Senegalese however noted that many of her customers have called her for more clothes and is optimistic that she would not go back with the goods she brought. According to her, transporting herself and her goods from Senegal to Nigeria by road cost over N230,000. It was gathered that the price of the Senegalese clothes ranges from N3,500 to N30,000.
She expressed happiness that some measure of peace has return to the state and to see people transacting business.
Alhaji Sadiq Dan Borno from Maiduguri, who is a seller of local perfume popularly known as 'Turarai wuta' in Hausa, said he usually makes about N2million each year he comes to the Kaduna trade fair but that last year he made N400,000 and spent over N70,000 to transport his goods to Kaduna as well as spent money to get a stand and transport himself back to Maiduguri at the end of the fair.
At the Fulani stand called 'Gidan Fulani', varieties of interior decorating items including beds, chairs, wardrobe, boxes and gate made of cane, among others were seen on display. Ayuba Shittu, the manager of the place which is under Fulbe Development Association in Kaduna state said they basically sell different Fulani items made by members of the association, who are over 1000 in number.
Shittu said this year's trade fair was better than last year due to security challenges. He called on individuals to patronize their products, especially those planning for wedding.
"Because of the trade fair, we decided to slash our prices, for instances, a set of women clothing which sold for N2000 in our shop now sells for N1,500; hand fans which was N300 has been reduced to N200 at the fair," he added.
While no indigenous company complained of poor organisation of the fair, an Indian company called Par Pura, sellers of water filters at the ongoing Kaduna International Trade Fair, advised that proper sensitization be done to enable people visit stands. They lamented that while some stands have large number of people visiting, some don't have visitors at all.
According to the Assistant Manager of the company, Ravi Bharat, the Abuja trade fair is better organised than the Kaduna fair. He noted that at Abuja fair, the officials of the fair make sure that every customer that enters the fair visits all the stalls and stands at the fair.
"At least 90 percent of the stalls in the fair would be visited by people at the Abuja trade fair. I am not very happy with the organization of the Kaduna fair because people don't even know we are here, except very few who walk down the fair premises, "he said.
He said the water filters he sell will help get rid of visible, invisible and living organisms present in water and advised people to ensure that water people drink should be free from all germs and other impurities.
He further added that because of the trade fair, the cost of the water filters were reduced from N74, 500 to N60, 500 and from N68, 000 and now N55, 000 respectively.
As far as Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA) is concerned, the organization of 2013 Kaduna International Trade Fair was excellent. The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of KADCCIMA, Yahaya Musa, said it was glaring and obvious that the turn-out of people for the 34th Kaduna trade fair was very impressive.