ZITF 2021 a success despite Covid-19 impact

by Editorial Team
4 minutes read

The ZITF Company, the organisers of the country’s multi-sectoral international exhibition, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) described the 2021 edition of the show as successful.

In a post-show report on the event which was held in September last year following three Covid 19-induced false starts, the company stated that the event was a success.

“Despite uncertainty and anxiety characterising preparations for the show owing to continual lockdowns to suppress the virulent Delta variant of the (Covid-19) pandemic, the exhibition was well subscribed and highly successful in terms of quality of products, attendance numbers and the uptake of networking concurrent events availed,” read part of the report.

A total of 465 exhibitors made up of 453 local and foreign participants took part in the trade fair. This was a decline from the 2019 exhibitor figure of 816. The total number of foreign exhibitors also fell from the 2019 figure of 26.

The parastatal attributed this performance to the restrictive environment induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Exhibition space demand prior to the Covid-19 pandemic had been on an exponential growth path since 2016. In the ZITF 2021 edition, 87.7 percent of loyal exhibitors returned while first-time exhibitors accounted for 12.3 percent,” said the company in the report.

As has been the trend over the past few years, the number of exhibitors from Harare was higher than those from Bulawayo and other regions. This is explainable by the fact that most companies are headquartered in Harare.

“In terms of local participation, 52.3 percent of exhibitors were from Harare, 5 percent up from 47 percent in 2019 while Bulawayo-based companies recorded a decline from 29 percent in 2019 to 24.5 percent. Representation from other cities around the country shrunk from 19 percent to 13 percent,” the company said.

The ZITF Company attributed the decline in participants from outside Bulawayo to a significant increase in ancillary costs, which include transport, accommodation and upkeep during the period preceding the show.

Turning to foreign exhibitors, the company explained the decline in number by stating that this was caused by the fear of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated global travel restrictions.

“Only eight nations participated, down from 14 at ZITF 2019 due to travel restrictions and fears caused by Covid-19. The participating countries included Angola, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, and South Africa. Individual companies represented Angola, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, and South Africa,” the company reported.

Although the Covid-19 also affected exhibition visitor numbers, the company was satisfied with the calibre of the visitors, especially from the business sector.

“Owing to the need to safeguard the health and safety of participants, the business-to-business trading period (first three days) saw a decline from 7 767 business visitors to 4 379 walking through the exhibition centre. Despite the pandemic, the calibre of this year’s business visitor was quite high as there was a significant number of senior-level business executives and representation from the policymakers up to the highest echelons of government,” the company said.

The ZITF Company also reported that other concurrent events such as conferences were also successful. These included the ZITF International Business Conference, the ZITF Charity Golf Challenge, the Scholastica Conference and the Innovators’ Forum.

“The concurrent networking events that occurred during the show were also well attended. In particular, the ZITF International Business Conference, organised in conjunction with the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), held on Wednesday 22 September, was oversubscribed with an attendance of approximately 590 delegates participating physically and 20 delegates participating virtually,” the company said.

The 2021 edition of the ZITF also saw the introduction of the inaugural ZITF Diplomats Forum.

“The ZITF Company, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade and the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA), hosted the inaugural ZITF Diplomats Forum on Thursday 23 September where 150 guests from Zimbabwe and 21 foreign countries were represented in a multi-stakeholder dialogue facilitating economic and commercial exchanges between Zimbabwe and its strategic partners. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Dr Frederick Shava gave the keynote address urging diplomats to take advantage of a myriad of trade and investment opportunities in the country,” read the report.

The company has since announced that ZITF 2022, which is the 62nd edition, is set to run from 26 to 30 April.

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