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EXPO: New West African Expo Leverages Trade Opportunities


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As a result of overwhelming exhibitor demand, South African based Exhibition Management Services (EMS) will be launching the West African International Trade Exhibition for Retail Products (WAITEX) in the country’s capital, Lagos, from 8 to 10 May 2012.

“This show will be modelled on our phenomenally successful Southern African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX), held in Johannesburg annually for the last 18 years,” say EMS Managing Director John Thomson. This year’s SAITEX show attracted almost 500 exhibitors, with 54 countries participating. “SAITEX’s many international clients have requested a similar platform to access the booming West Africa market,” he continues.

A New Prospect for Nigeria with the West African Expo

Thomson is upbeat and excited about the opportunities that WAITEX offers and explains the rationale for hosting the event in Nigeria. ”The facts all weigh in Nigeria’s favour,” he says. “Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and is the continent’s second-biggest economy; growing at an incredible 10% per year by the time WAITEX takes place in 2012.”

Nigeria has jumped three places in global GDP rankings, rising from 44th place in 2009 to 41st this year. “EMS is well-positioned to host the West African Expo; it’s one of the longest established event organisers in Southern Africa, and is the only exhibitions company on the continent with experience in delivering Pan African exhibition programmes,” adds Thomson.

Analysts predict that Nigeria will be the world’s fastest growing economy between now and 2050. With its soaring consumer demand, a growing middle class, high net inflows of capital investment and strong growth in agriculture, distribution, telecommunications, manufacturing and the retail trade, it is no surprise that Nigeria was recently declared one of the top three investment destinations in Africa by the independent Africa Business Panel in The Netherlands.

“The investment tide is flowing into Africa, and a growing number of international companies have been spreading out into the continent,” says Bill Repard, interim committee member of the Australian African Mining Group.

Nigeria garners the greatest proportion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa. FDI inflows have grown enormously over the last decade, from $1,14-billion in 2001 to $11-billion in 2009, according to United Nations Committee for Trade and Development. This makes Nigeria the 19th biggest recipient of FDI in the world.

Growing International Trade with Economic Giants

More countries are increasing their trade with Nigeria. Trade between Nigeria and China reached an all-time high this year of $7,76-billion, and Nigeria is China’s fourth largest trade partner and second largest export market in Africa.

Bi-lateral trade between Nigeria and India also hit record highs in 2011, reaching $14,6-billion by year end March 31, a massive rise of over 40% from $8,7-billion in fiscal 2010.

Good Time for West African Expo as Retailers Scramble for Nigeria

Thomson cites the retail sector as one example offering opportunities for foreign players. “The recent lifting of the textile import ban in Nigeria has sharply expanded the scope of international retailers that are able to trade in Nigeria,” he continues. “The Nigerian property sector is also experiencing healthy growth, and a large component of this is the retail trade; South African retailers Mr Price, Spar and Woolworths are considering setting up ventures in the country.”

Some of the leading international retailers already have a foothold in the country. Shoprite Holdings Ltd, which opened its second outlet in Lagos last year, plans to open 20 new stores in the country by the end of 2011.

Last year, Internationale Spar Centrale BV opened its first store in Lagos in partnership with Park n Shop owner Artee Industries Ltd. Walmart’s recent acquisition of Massmart Holdings gives it ownership of the African retail network, including the Game outlet in Nigeria.

Assistance for South African producers

“Good news for South African exhibitors is that if your products have at least 35% local content, you are eligible for financial assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry,” observes John Thomson. “This means you can participate in the West African Expo for virtually nothing.”

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