Nebiyou Seyoum, who works as the marketing manager of TIMEX Construction Plc, was busy on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. He was displaying a new product imported by his Company to visitors at the 10th Ethio-Con Exhibition, inside the Addis Abeba Exhibition & Marketing Development Enterprise (AAEMDE).
The concrete sprayer and plastering machine that Nebiyou and his colleague were displaying was imported from Italy. The machine, according to Nebiyou, relieves construction workers from manually spreading concrete onto walls.
It is easier to spread the mixed cement on buildings by using a triangular-shaped metal spoon and a rectangular wooden surface, with a handle to flatten the surface, says Nebiyou.
Nebiyou and his colleague tirelessly explained to visitors that anyone using the machine will save considerable energy.
"The new machine could spray and plaster 480sqm within eight hours," Nebiyou told Fortune. "Using human labour one can only cover a maximum of 30sqm within eight hours."
Companies, like TIMEX, with heavy machineries were allotted spaces outdoors, while those with small to medium-sized ones were stationed in each of the three main halls.
Inside hall number two, staff from the Sudanese Makki Aluminum Factory, who were displaying their products for the first time in Ethiopia, were equally busy entertaining inquisitive questions from customers.
Promoting wall partitions and window shutters, made of fabric in many different colors, they captivated many visitors. Makki, according to its owner Khalid Makki, is looking for agents in the country to open its branch in Ethiopia.
"We hope to penetrate the Ethiopian market here," Khalid told Fortune.
The exhibition was an open stage for the 110 local companies, like TIMEX, who have brought a machine new to Ethiopia. This is in addition to the 40 international companies, from Turkey, the UAE,India,China,Australia, South Sudan and South Africa.
"Compared to the nearly 100 companies that participated in the previous exhibition, this year has witnessed a dramatic increase," says Solomon Gizaw, general manager of the Ethiopian Construction Contractors Association (ECCA), which organised the previous and the current exhibitions.
He attributes this change to the extensive promotion work performed by the Association.
The one peculiar aspect of the event is that, unlike other exhibitions, like the holiday bazaar, it was characterised by the almost complete absence of chatter and bustle. In anyone of the three halls, one easily found one's way around without jostling through or waiting until the pathway was cleared. At the same time, children were not seen at all, while the youth were outnumbered by adults aged 40 and above.
Visitors in almost all cases were well familiar with the construction industry and, thus, demonstrated negotiation skills. Isyas Aklilu, who is in his mid-40's, is one such visitor, who rents construction machines to earn a living. He also visited last year's exhibition.
"If I could settle for a fair price, I will definitely buy some machines," he told Fortune, while negotiating with representatives of Yemkab General Import & Export Plc.
However, he sees no major difference between now and the previous year.
The exhibition has been held for the past nine years and brought together importers, exporters, real estate developers, contractors and those who are actors in the construction process.
The spatial distribution of the different companies displaying their products inside the compound depended on their request to have a large or small space.
The price of a square metre plot ranges from 95 Br to 125 Br, based on the location. The former price applies to spaces outside any of the three halls. Those lying inside, however, cost 125Br.The first block was mainly occupied by companies who requested reserved spots. It was largely filled by bigger companies, like MIDROC Ethiopia. Also, those inside this hall displayed heavier machineries compared to their counterparts in the two other halls
The Association exclusively organised the last two exhibitions. Previously, however, Century Promotion had organised the exhibitions on its behalf.