From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
The just concluded 39th Kaduna International Trade Fair has come and gone, but it has left behind memories of gains and pains in the minds of Nigeria’s business community.
The fair which started 39 years ago at the popular Murtala Mohammed Square before it was moved to the permanent site is hub of business activities whenever in session.
The 2018 fair is not an exception as it brought in business communities within and outside the borders of the country all showcasing their products to attract potential customers.
The gains of this year’s fair is that it is coming after the country has
moved out of recession portraying that the country is getting back into competitive business and that is why President Muhammadu Buhari tasked participants at the fair to take advantage of it and grow their business.
According to him, Nigeria is presently facing challenges steering the economy towards global economic integration through trade liberalization, efficient and effective mechanism for conflict.
President Buhari called on Nigerians to gird their loins to face the challenges of global trade through adhering to best practices. He said Nigeria’s economy is influenced by both external and internal factors like any other country operating within the present global setting.
In answer to this, Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMMA), organizers of the fair used this year to lure local manufacturers to actively participate in it and display their products that can compete favourably with international standard.
It is not surprising that companies like the Dangote Group quickly took advantage of this by flooding the fair with its local products such as Dangote Cement, Dangote Salt and Dangote Flour, Dangote Noodles among others. These products marched any other products across the globe.
According to Hajiya Hadiza Musa, the Dangote Group has brought in products that hitherto were far away from Nigerians closer to them. To her visiting the fair gave her the opportunity to buy some of the products at even a reduced price from what obtains in daily market.
The 39th Kaduna International Trade Fair also served as a venue for new innovations in the marketing of products. For example, Kaduna Electric used the advantage of the fair to launch its online payment platform which makes purchasing of electric token for customers easy. From the handset, customers can easily load and reload tokens without necessarily to the office. This is a new innovation.
Similarly, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaju Umaru Ibrahim, used the fair to warned Nigerians against patronizing trading in Bitcoins, Crypto-currencies;
saying they are neither issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nor insured by NDIC.
He disclosed that people who transact in digital currencies or ponzi schemes are getting themselves involved in risks which cannot be mitigated or covered by the Corporation, adding that it is better to steer clear of such businesses to avoid complete loss of investments.
NDIC also informed Nigerians at the fair that unlike other currencies issued by CBN, there is no digital currency guaranteed by the Apex Bank since it is not a legal tender. He disclosed that there are over 1,000 types of bitcoin globally.
“Digital currencies do not belong to the category of currency or coins issues by CBN or a Central Bank of any country, digital currencies are not backed by any physical commodity such as gold.
“Digital currencies are not deposits or instruments authorized by the CBN, therefore they are not insured by NDIC,” he said.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), used the 39th International Trade Fair to refute the allegation that telecom mast and towers causes health hazards; saying that the World Health Organization (WHO), has affirmed that no result of any such hazard has been established against base stations.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta disclosed this during the NCC day at the fair.
He reaffirmed that the Commission will maintain the position of the WHO team that conducted test on some base stations.
He therefore called on individual, or community adducing such reasons to deny right of way to the telecom companies, and prevent them from expanding services.
He said the NCC an independent telecom regulator in Nigeria, recognizes that telecommunications services are very important to the nation, and more importantly, that the consumers of telecommunications services deserve to get value for their money, and be treated as a very important stakeholders in the scheme of things as far as service delivery is concerned.
“The main thrust of our participation at the fair this year is to promote a major campaign, dedicated to the welfare of the consumer, which the Commission launched last year.
“On March 15, 3017, the Commission flagged off a major consumer centric initiative tagged 2017: Year o the Nigerian Telecom Consumer. This date coincided with the Consumer Rights Day celebrated across the globe.
“The objective of NCC’s 2017 YNTC, is to engage, empower, educate and inform the consumer about his rights and responsibilities, opportunities and solutions that are available in the industry.
“The essence of this declaration is to reassure the consumers that the issue of protecting them from unfair practices is not a mere talk. It is call to action,” he said.
The availability of locally made products displayed at the fair is commendable. It goes to show that Nigeria can become a manufacturing giant if proper machineries are put in place.
Another gain of this year’s trade fair is proper security measures put in place by KADCCIMMA in collaboration with security agencies. Investigation by this reporter revealed that unlike past fairs where reported cases of stolen vehicles, this year’s fair did not record such.
According to one of the security officer Adamu Ibrahim, Management developed vehicle tags given to each going into the premises and no vehicle is allowed to move out without such tags. This year the management adhered strictly to it.
A lady who lost her tag has to send back to security office for question and answer before allowing her to move her vehicle even
though she had the particulars and key. This is a welcome development.
However, the general patronage at the fair is not encouraging as many foreign countries did not show up. Stands of other companies are locked up. For example, the Union Bank permanent site did not open through out the fair and none of its officials are around for any explanation.
The Director General of the fair, Mallam Usman Saulawa, said the security situation in the northern part of the country also contributed to the low turn out. However, he assured that KADCCIMA will embark on massive media publicity to educate investors that Kaduna State is save for business.
Even though there are different types of wares and products available to customers at the fair, shop owners lamented the low patronage as people just come for sight seeing. An official of KADCCIMA attributed this to the economic situation in the country because Nigeria is just coming out of recession and people are careful on what to spend their little cash on.
The 39th Kaduna International Trade Fair might have come and gone, but certainly the memories will remain on the minds of the Kaduna business community and with hope that the 40thedition of the fair will supersede the year’s fair.