Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) dominated the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair (OATF) this year, as different businesses participated in the week-long exhibition of products and services, Ongwediva spokesperson Andreas Uutoni said.
“The demand for exhibition space, both indoors and outdoors, remains high. In order to enhance exhibition excellence, a maximum number of 440 exhibitors were accommodated. During previous years, the OATF had accommodated up to 550 exhibitors, but that has proven to be a counter-productive exercise as it compromised the quality of exhibition due to overcrowding and space limitations,” Uutoni noted.
The OATF 2015, under the theme ‘Inspire Change to Build World-Class Business Leaders,’ has lived up to expectations and consolidated its position and status as a leading multi-sectorial trade and business exposition. This year’s trade fair was not only characterised by exceptional business promotional activities, but also by visible improvements in the quality of exhibitions as this trend could also be observed from micro-enterprises to corporate and public sector exhibitors.
The trade fair not only accommodated SMEs and the corporate and public sectors, but it also accomodated various exhibitors such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry; the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources; and the Oshikoto Regional Council, to mention but a few.
The number of visitors to the OATF has consistently grown, with a record number of 111 373 visitors recorded during OATF 2013. Although not surprising to the Preparatory Committee, the number by far exceeded expectations. The number represented an increase of 26% from the previous year. The preliminary number of visitors during OATF 2014, purely from the sales of entry tickets at the gates, was 4% less than the sales for 2013.
Preliminary figures for OATF 2015 do not look different from the figures recorded for OATF 2014. “We are, however, optimistic and confident that the final statistics shall be above 105 000, well above the threshold that we have set for ourselves, namely to maintain the visitor statistics above 100 000,” beamed Uutoni.
The layout plan for exhibitions, the quality of exhibitions and the increase in the number of industrial exhibitors made an impact which distinguished OATF 2015 from all previous trade fairs. Thirty-nine (39) international exhibitors participated in the fair from countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Tanzania, China, Japan and Indonesia.
The OATF also plays as a local economy-booster by creating direct, temporary employment opportunities for youth as cashiers and supporting personnel, and also indirect employment, which is created through local service providers who are contracted for catering, security services, cleaning services, maintenance work, printing services and many more.
SMEs and small traders were also offered an opportunity to participate at the OATF at a subsidized fee of only N$250.00, and this allowed SME’s and individuals to also have an opportunity to compete for food kiosks through competitive tender processes, and thus acquire a venue for trading in all types of food and beverages, which created business avenues and networks too.
The hospitality industry also serves as a great contributor to the local economy as it benefits greatly from the OATF, considering the fact that the overwhelming number of exhibitors are from outside the region and from all over the country.
Furthermore, the demand for exhibition space is on an increase, while the supply remains low in terms of what the OATF can offer. Likewise, the outbreak of Food-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in the northern regions has negatively affected the planned livestock show at OATF 2015. OATF 2016 is expected to take place from August 26, 2016 to September 03, 2016.
According to Ongwediva Mayor Jason Asino, a comparison of the 2015 and 2014 trade fair shows that the number of exhibitors has increased enormously.
“We had a lot of exhibitors on our waiting list, because our space is limited, and we were unable to accommodate all exhibitors because most of these exhibitors are aware that the aim of the annual trade fair is to create revenue for SME’s to become the main streams of the economy,” said Asino.