Unlike the previous trade fairs, the, 17th Rwanda International Trade Fair limited the number of foreign exhibitors allowed, due to a decrease in space, from 108 foreign exhibitors last year to 78 this year.
According Hannington Namara, the CEO of the Private Sector Federation, the number of foreign exhibitors was reduced due to limited space. "The expo has become an icon. This led to the increased demand of stands, and both national and international exhibitors could not exhibit their products so we had to limit them. We did it on first come first serve basis," Namara explained.
The expo, which started on July 23 at Gikondo Expo Ground and will end on August 6, was officially launched on Thursday by the Minister of Trade and Industry Francois Kanimba.
Speaking at the launch, PSF chairman Benjamin Gasamagera, said the Expo will be a multi-sector trade event that will enhance business exchanges among international and local exhibitors.
"The Expo will offer an excellent platform and business window to manufacturers of goods and providers of services, targeting to bring new investments in the country or expand their businesses within the region and beyond. It is an avenue for showing and launching new and improved technologies in the market, and business meetings among the participants in the Expo will also be identified," Gasamagera added.
"We will continue focusing on building the capacity of private sector to effectively engage in strategic development activities, as well as supporting SMEs and cooperatives' participation in trade fair, exposing them to the planning opportunity" said Minister Kanimba.
"The ministry will work closely with PSF to provide market information to Rwandan businesses and consumers to better inform the trading system. We encourage improving domestic trade, so that we can attract investment to provide employment opportunity," he added.
John Mwagi is a Kenyan who deals in jewelry. Traveling to Rwanda for the expo, he said the Expo will help him to make money and form business partnerships.
"This is the second time I've attended the trade fair. I found that Rwanda is a suitable country to do business, everything goes straight and above all there is peace and security. No investor wishes to invest in an insecure country," Mwagi explained.
"The Expo has started at the right time; we hope to sell more products, exhibiting and learning from what others have brought, so that we can find way of making a difference in our work," said Thiery Baruwari, sales and marketing officer for Sulfo Industries.
Sectors represented in this year's expo include telecommunication and IT, agricultural equipment, machinery, construction and housing, textile, clothing and garments, cultural and tourism items, handcrafts products, furniture, food, and beverages.
Fifteen countries that have participated in this year's expo include include Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Iran, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Poland.
Last year's expo attracted about 300 exhibitors, with108 were foreign exhibitors. This year, there are around 329 exhibitors including 78 foreign companies.
Over 250,000 visitors are expected in this Expo, from over 230,000 visitors last year.
The Expo is organized by Private Sector federation in partnership with Minicom.