A tender, floated for the second time to select an organising company for the coming Ethiopian New Year trade fair, bazaar and festival, was closed on February 28, 2013, leading two companies - Century General Trading plc and Andnet General Trading & Printers Plc - into a cut throat competition.
The two companies bid 4.9 million Br each. Andnet's bid, however, was higher by 555 Br, giving it a slight edge.
The new offers are 350,000 Br higher than the previous bid, which closed on January 22, 2013.
"It is the least increment ever seen," said Tamrat Admasu, general manager of the Addis Ababa Exhibition Centre.
Century opposed the tender, claiming that Andnet's trade licence is for wood and bush product importation; that the number of companies that made offers was less than three, which is against the internal procedure of the Exhibition Centre, and that Andnet had no experience in event organisation and promotion.
Century has organised 19 trade fairs and bazaars, under the brand "Addis Trade for Development", on Christmas, Easter and the Ethiopian New Year, since the practice was launched in 1998, under theAddis Ababacity government.
Andnet rejected the claim, saying that it has been licenced for the publishing and news media business as of 1998.
A company has to be licenced for promotion works and has to renew its licence annually, in order to be an organiser, according to a directive issued by the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA), in 2008.
Tamrat announced that the Exhibition Centre will only consider the financial aspects when selecting a winner this week. At which point Century took the case to the Addis Abeba Chamber that afternoon, after the closing scenes were witnessed in the Chamber Building, located around Mexico Square, on Ras Luelseged St.The city gave the Exhibition Centre to the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association (AACCSA), on a 10 year contract, in 2005.
"We have told the board of the exhibition to investigate Andnet's trade licence from the trade minister; to verify the profession of licenses and taxes, and to not only choose the company that offered the higher price," Getachew Regasa, secretary general of the Chamber told Fortune.
The responsibility of the board, which has five members, is to the Chamber.
The tender was floated 21 days before its close date, and a month after the first tender was disqualified, because only Century offered 4.5 million Br, out of the six companies that bought the bid document, including Adika Entertainment.
One of the 10 companies registered for the second tender, Afrodan Plc, withdrew from the tender at the last minute.
"We are on a mid-year audit and could not pay the money if we were to win the tender," said Daniel Werkshet, owner and General Manager of Afrodan.
The winning company will be expected to pay 15pc of the bid within 15 days.
It costs a company 2.5 to three million Br to organise the trade fair, according to Tamrat.
Close to 20,000 daily visitors and over 350 international and domestic participants from all sectors are expected to attend the fair. .
"We plan on giving it a more festive colour and to focus on the entertainment side," said Tamrat. "Besides that, companies that have scarce products that are in high demand will be given priority to participate."